Lex Frieden Receives Disability Achievement Award

Published March 14, 2013 by Rob Cahill


Lex FriedenLex Frieden, a disability rights champion at UTHealth and TIRR Memorial Hermann, received a 2013 Henry Viscardi Achievement Award. The award honors the accomplishments of people with disabilities on a global basis.

Best known for his contributions to the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Frieden suffered a spinal cord injury while in college and has used a wheelchair for more than 40 years. He is a professor at the UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics and directs the Independent Living Research Utilization program at TIRR Memorial Hermann.

The award was one of nine presented by The Viscardi Center, an internationally-recognized center for training and rehabilitation of people with disabilities. It bears the name of the late Henry Viscardi, Jr., who was one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities.

The announcement of the awards coincides with the 80th anniversary of the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who as a member of the disability community was among the most influential figures of the 20th century and who was advised by Viscardi. Viscardi wore prosthetic legs and died in 2004.

“I am proud to join The Viscardi Center and my fellow committee members in announcing this outstanding group of Henry Viscardi Achievement Award recipients,” said former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole, Selection Committee co-chair. “All of them are champions for people with disabilities around the world. In turn, their work, and the stories of their lives, are important and set the bar high for the next generation of innovators, activists and leaders.”

The other committee co-chairs included: Marlee Matlin, an Academy Award-winning actress who received critical acclaim for “Children of a Lesser God;” and Luis Gallegos, an Ecuadorian diplomat.

Other recipients include:  Laurie Ahern, president, Disability Rights International, Washington, D.C.;  Rosangela Berman Bieler, Senior Advisor on Children with Disabilities, UNICEF, New York City; Tony Coelho, former U.S. Representative from California; Yoav Kraiem, chairman, National Council for Community Relations – Mental Health, Israel; U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District; Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.; Patrick D. Rummerfield, community liaison, International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, Kennedy-Krieger Institute, Chesterfield, MO; and Michael Ashley Stein, executive director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability.