On October 20, 2020, Phoenix was proud to host its first virtual conference.  The online experience was a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

Despite a pandemic, Phoenix embodied this year’s NDEAM theme: increasing access and opportunity.  Over 100+ participants heard from industry NDEAM leaders and ADA subject matter experts.  Viewers were able to relive history as they watched the “Signing Ceremony” of The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.  The two-hour event provided insight and heartfelt testimonies of the importance of these two milestones.

Here are 3 fun facts shared during this year’s conference:

  • Advocacy for disabled individuals began in the late 1800s. According to former Congressman Jon C. Porter, families were beginning to mobilize in the late 1800s to advocate for individuals with disabilities.  Advocacy increased in the 1920s due to family members returning from WWI needing more assistance.
  • The signing ceremony’s attendance broke historical numbers.  U.S. Senator Bob Dole described the signing ceremony as “having people everywhere.”  Over 3,000 people covered the White House lawn to witness the signing.  By 1990, it was recorded as the largest audience for the signing of a bill.
  • Rev. Harold H. Wilke received his ceremonial pen with his toes.  Who was Harold Wilke?  Reverend Wilke was an armless minister who was among those recognized for their advocacy during the ADA signing.  As President Bush handed Reverend Wilke his pen, Wilke removed his shoes in front of the crowd and grasped the pen with his toes.  This caused the crowd to erupt with applause.

Revisit these facts and view the entire conference by clicking "play" on the recording below.

Phoenix was also joined by the Mayor of Huntsville, Tommy Battle, on October 1st.  Mayor Battle read a proclamation to declare the month as National Disability Employment Awareness Month for the city.

Take a listen to the proclamation at the 11:30 minute mark below.

Phoenix would like to acknowledge and thank the following speakers and participants for celebrating with us in October:

    • Tommy Battle, Mayor of Huntsville
    • Greg Gaddy, Chairman of Board of Directors, Phoenix
    • David Perez, CEO and President, Phoenix
    • Kenny Anderson, Vice Chairperson of Board of Directors, Phoenix
    • Shannon Green, Badge Checker, Phoenix/Redstone Arsenal
    • Honorable Jon C. Porter, former U.S. Congressman
    • Wes Tyler, Senior Vice President, Phoenix
    • Amy Patterson, Vice President of Vocational Services, Phoenix
    • Daryl Moore, Production Supervisor, Phoenix
    • Terry Farmer, CEO and President, ACCSES
    • Thomas Buckley, Director for Population Health, YAI
    • Samantha Boyer, Case Manager, Phoenix
    • Jennifer Middleton, Director of Sales, Candlewood
    • Martha Jo Smith, Receptionist, Phoenix/Redstone Arsenal
    • William Cheeks, Administrative Assistant, Phoenix
    • Brian Sarkisian, Custodian, Phoenix/Redstone Arsenal

Stay connected with Phoenix's virtual efforts by searching “Phoenix Huntsville” on YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Join our advocacy conversations by following the hashtag #PhoenixHuntsville.