Texas disability awards to bear the name of UTHealth’s Lex Frieden

Published June 23, 2011 by Rob Cahill

HOUSTON - (June 23, 2011) - The Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities announced that its employment awards will now bear the name of Lex Frieden, a disability rights champion on the faculty of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Beginning in October, the awards presented by the committee will be known as the Lex Frieden Employment Awards. They are given to employers, entrepreneurs and professionals in the field of disabilities for exemplary actions, methods and practices.

Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities Chairman Joe Bontke said, “Frieden has made contributions in many ways to improve the lives of people in Texas and the nation.”

Frieden, who uses a wheelchair following a traffic accident while in college, was one of the architects of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and is a leader in the movement to help people with disabilities live independently.

While the ADA has made it much easier for people with disabilities to use public transportation and enter public buildings, the unemployment rate among people with disabilities is still much higher than that of people without disabilities, Frieden said.

“Much work remains to be done in the area of employment and disability,” said Frieden, who is a professor of biomedical informatics and rehabilitation at UTHealth, The University of Texas System Chancellor’s Health Fellow on Disability and director of the Independent Living Research Utilization Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann.

There are employment awards for large, medium and small employers, as well as nonprofit employers. In addition, there is the Entrepreneurship Award for an entrepreneur with a disability, the Martha Arbuckle Award for an innovative local committee project that benefits people with disabilities and the Governor’s Trophy for a professional in the field of disabilities.

This year’s award ceremony will be held in Austin on Tuesday, Oct. 25. It will be hosted by the Austin Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities. Employers and individuals can be nominated by the public or can submit self-nominations.