Joyce welcomes The Honorable, Tony Coelho to the show.
July 28, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes The Honorable, Tony Coelho to the show. The former congressman from CA is an author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He will reflect on the significance of the 30th Anniversary of this landmark legislation and share with us the history behind making it the law of the land.

Honorable Tony Coelho - ecard

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Bender Consulting Servcies

disability matters

JULY 28, 2020

1:00 p.m. CT


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>> ANNOUNCER: Do you know that over 70% of Americans with severe disabilities are unemployed? If you have epilepsy or know someone struggling with these issues, tune into Disability Matters with Joyce Bender. Joyce will discuss these issues as well as others. She will have on nationally known guests that will offer insight on disability matters and let you call in with your questions. If you struggle with a disability or know someone who does, listen to Disability Matters with Joyce Bender, heard every Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time here on

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>> ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Disability Matters with your host, Joyce Bender. All comments, views, and opinions expressed on the show are solely those of the hosts, guests, and callers. Now the host of Disability Matters, here's Joyce Bender.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Hey, everyone. Welcome, welcome to ADA Month. ADA 30, 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act just this past Sunday, July    I mean, Saturday, excuse me    no, I was right the first time    July 26th. You know what, it's very meaningful to me because I am a woman living with epilepsy, with a company of people with disabilities. And it has changed so many lives for so many people, July 26th, 30 years ago.

So, hello to all of our listeners in the United States and around the world. I've got to tell you once again, China, you have the most listeners, although for every country including Saudi Arabia where there's one person, one person can spread the no us to many people. So, thank you. And just know that we are thinking of all of you as we all together go through this pandemic of the coronavirus in the United States.

Also, a special shoutout to my good friend Yoshiko. Yoshiko Dart, we're thinking about you all the time, but especially this month as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA. We think about you and of course your husband, the late Justin Dart, so much. Highmark, thank you. We have some great sponsor this is year. Highmark has been the lead sponsor for four years. But guess what? This year, we also had a one year sponsorship from People's, formerly People's Natural Gas, Wells Fargo is a sponsor, and so is the Employment Options.

Wow! Thank you so much, because you're helping me really spread the news. We've come a long way from when we started, I think 16 years ago. It's amazing what has happened since then. So, here we are this month celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And who would be better to have, and what an honor to have the author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, former Congressman, international disability rights leader, great business leader, and to me, most importantly, my close friend. Welcome to the show, Tony Coelho.

>> TONY COELHO: Thank you, Joyce. The feeling is mutual. You're my good friend as well.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Yes, lucky for me.

>> TONY COELHO: (Laughing)

>> JOYCE BENDER: Tony, I thought we could start    we have listeners from around the world. Since we are talking about how all this started, I thought it would be a good idea to start with your own story, because really, that story, when you think about it, is instrumental in you being the author of the ADA. So, would you mind sharing that with everyone?

>> TONY COELHO: Thank you, Joyce, happy to do so. When I was 16 or so, I had an accident on our dairy farm in a pickup truck. It tipped over in a canal. And I hit my head, came out of that, and had a headache, but nothing else. A year later I was in the barn milking cows, and the next thing I knew I was waking up in my bed. And my brother had carried me from the barn to the house.

I had just had a grand mal seizure. The doctor was there and discussed it with my parents. My parents, being Portuguese and Catholic, felt that if you have epilepsy, you're possessed by the devil and that God was punishing the family. So my parents didn't tell me that the doctor said I had epilepsy. So I went to an additional three doctors. They all said the same thing. But again, my parents didn't tell me what those doctors said.

So then I go to three witch doctors, and they tried, but they never got rid of the evil spirits. And so at that point I decided I didn't want to go to any more witch doctors, and I continued to have my passing out spells, as I called them, not knowing what they were. But, you know, I would have my seizure. I was tired afterwards, but I'd get up and milk or do whatever I was doing. Then I went on to college. And I kept on having my passing out spells.

And I changed my mind, instead of being a trial lawyer, I decided to become a Catholic priest. So when I graduated from Loyola University in Los Angeles, I was to enter the Jesuit seminary. I did my physical, and the doctor asked me if I had ever heard the word epilepsy. And I said no. So he told me what it was and he said it's what you have. And as a result, the good news, 1964, you don't have to serve in the military, because you're 4F. That was Vietnam.

The bad news is that the Catholic church in 400 AD said people with epilepsy are possessed by the Devil, you can't be a priest. So you can't enter the seminary. He told me that he could prescribe medicine for me, and give me a prescription that would handle the severity of my seizures, and might even eliminate some of them and so forth. Well, I was thrilled because all of a sudden now I knew that what these passing out spells were and that I could go on with my life.

I had gotten a lot of offers, you know, because I was student body president, outstanding senior at the university. So I had gotten a lot of offers and I started to go to these places and filled out the job application. And every time I handed it in, I never even got an appointment. I realized after a period of time, after going through several, that the word epilepsy I had checked the box. And as a result, I never got an interview.

And I started to feel sorry for myself. I felt that everything I had ever loved in my life    my God, my church, my family    had turned against me. So I started drinking a lot. By 2:00 in the afternoon I was drunk. I then became suicidal. And the day I was going to do the dirty deed, I was on    I thought it was a mountaintop, but actually it's only a hill. But when you're drunk, you probably exaggerate everything.

So when I was on top of this hill, I heard a voice. And the voice said, "you're going to be just like those little kids on the bottom of the hill getting on and off the merry go round. You're never going to let anybody or anything stop you from doing what you want to do."

And that was it. I've never been depressed since then. I drink but I don't get drunk. And I got my confidence back. I then had an opportunity about a week later of going to live with Bob Hope and his family. And some of you may not know, but Bob Hope was a very famous TV comedian with his own show and so forth. I lived with he and family for a year. During that time, he said to me, Tony, you think you have a ministry and it can only be practiced in a church.

You're wrong. It can be practiced in sports, entertainment, business, government. And where you belong is in politics. I hadn't thought of that. But I wrote a letter to my congressman, who I didn't know. Got the job, worked for him for 14 years, took his place when he retired. And then when I ran, somebody    my opponent at the time said to a dinner    I don't know if you know it or not, but Tony is a very sick man. He has epilepsy. What would you think if he went to the White House arguing a critical issue for us and had a seizure?

People at that dinner were upset. Several of them called me. And I then had a reporter call me the next day. And he said, your opponent said last night, what's your reaction? I said well, in the 13 plus years that I was in Washington, I have known a lot of people who went to the White House and had fits. At least I'd have an excuse.

>> JOYCE BENDER: (Chuckling)

>> TONY COELHO: And that was the end of it. Nobody ever took me on my epilepsy again. So then when I was in the Congress, I realized that I had an opportunity to do something about disabilities, and epilepsy in particular. So I started authoring some amendments. And I started to realize that, you know, you can't do much because we didn't have our basic civil rights. An employer could ask you, if you had a disability, or if they saw that you had a disability.

They could tell you directly, "we are not going to hire you because of your disability." If you went to a movie theater and you were in a wheelchair, they could kick you out by saying you were a fire hazard. If you went to a restaurant, and you basically asked what was on the menu because you were sight impaired, they could say    deny you because you were a nuisance. All of these things were legal before 1990.

And so introducing the ADA, it was all from my basic experiences. At the same time, there was a tremendous grassroots effort going on across the country. Joyce just mentioned Justin Dart. He was going around the country educating people as what was needed and why an ADA was needed. And so I introduced it. And it was interesting. People, my colleagues in the House of Representatives would come up to me and say, Tony, I don't like the way my mother, my father, my brother, my sister, my aunt, my uncle, my next door neighbor are treated because of their disability.

And I want to support your bill. So I introduced it and I had 87 cosponsors. The Congress entered it and I introduced it in the next Congress. And in the next Congress I had 252 cosponsors. It takes 218 to pass it. But the leadership was trying to stop it because they thought it was too big of a bill, too significant in the changes that needed to take place. So they assigned it to five different committees and several subcommittees and so forth.

And we worked out a strategy to take it to the most effective subcommittee. And then we moved through. The Senate was considering it at the same time. They got it through rather quickly. We then, in the House    I had left. And I asked Denny from Maryland to lead it. And Newt Gingrich asked Steve from Texas to lead it for the Republicans. And that combination was tremendous and got it through the House of Representatives. And President Bush signed it into law on July 26th, 1990.

And it's been the law of the land ever since. And so many things have changed. And for those of you who are from different parts of the world, the great thing about what we have done with the ADA, it's been exported to over 52 different countries that have their own ADA now. And so that's exciting for me, is that the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities is not only true here in the United States, but it is true in so many different parts of the world.

And that's exciting and very satisfying for me. I just want to make one comment. For those of you who are Catholic and wondering about my comment, when I was majority whip in the House of Representatives I got to make a trip to the Vatican. And when the pope entered the room and everybody stood up, he sat down, we sat down. I go to the podium. As Joyce knows, I have a favorite saying. If you have a podium    it doesn't have to be a wooden or steel thing    if you have the voice, you have the opportunity to make a statement, you need to be straightforward and speak to power.

When I spoke, I finished the very boring preapproved speech by the State Department and the Vatican. I finished that and then I said, off script I said, Your Holiness, I could not live with myself if I did not say something personal. As a young man, I decided I wanted to become a Catholic priest. I was denied entry because the Catholic church, in 400 AD said if you have epilepsy you are possessed by the Devil and can't be a priest.

I think that's very un Christian of our church. And I wish you'd look into it. That was the end of it. At the end of this meeting, there was a delegation from the United States with me. The pope escorted myself and my wife to the door so that he would go on. He turned to my wife, blessed her. Turned to me, did not bless me. Those of you who are Catholic would immediately assume that if the pope doesn't bless you, you've got problems. And so I was surprised and hurt a little bit that he didn't bless me.

But he said, young man, I heard your comments. Turned around, and walked off. Well, I thought well, that didn't work. Two years later, law was changed to permit people with epilepsy to become priests. Now, I want to be very careful. I don't take credit for that change. I take credit for speaking up about the need to make that change. How that change came about, I do not know. But I know what I did. And what I say to all of us with disabilities is speak up to power when you have that opportunity. And that's a good example of it.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Well, Tony, that is such an inspirational story. And I'm going to tell you listeners something. I've known Tony for over 22 years. And I met Tony when he was the chair of the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities. Don't think that was just what many people think of, oh, that's just a committee, you know, must have reported up through many people to get to a cabinet member. No, he reported to the president, President Clinton.

Because I very much remember the fear he would put into everyone's heart from every different cabinet when he would say, so, Justice Department, how many people have you hired? Oh, State Department, what about you? Because you know, if there's a problem, I can go to the President. I will never forget that. But this is when I met Tony way back then when actually he spoke at an event that I was at. And still to this day, Tony, when you tell that story, it still to this day gets to me.

And it's never like that old story. You know, I'm sitting here thinking, do you see what can happen when you take a tragedy, which you had, and do something good? You know, move forward and do something good, because am I not correct, Tony, that many of the former presidents all the way back to President Nixon that you have met with?

>> TONY COELHO: That's right. I started with President Nixon and then every one after that I've had a relationship with, except the current president. And I spoke to each one of them on one item, and that was that I said I only know of one group in our country that wants to pay taxes. As everybody knows, most people don't want to pay taxes. But I said I know of only one group that wants to, and that's the disability community. Why? Because that means we have a job, we can participate in society like everyone else, we can own a home, rent a car, buy a car, go to the theater, go grocery shopping.

We can do anything that everybody else does because we've got a job. And that's why a job, not only here in the United States, but anywhere in the world is critical for those of us with disabilities. And so yes, we're willing to pay our fair share if we get that opportunity to fail, as Joyce knows I always say. If I can't get the opportunity to fail, then I'll never have the opportunity to succeed. And if you give me that opportunity, I guarantee you I will succeed.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Yes. Tony always shocks people when he says to them, give me the right to be fired. And at first    I've noticed this, businesspeople will be sort of taken aback. What? And then they'll get it. Then they'll get it's all about no pity. Just give me a chance. Just give me an opportunity. And I am sure, Tony, you never dreamt all of this would happen. I mean, that you would become really famous, that you would become so well known.

Here in the disability community, and/or business world    and I'm talking, and I say Tony, they know. Oh, yeah, they know who Tony is. First name, they know who Tony is. So, God really used you, Tony.

>> TONY COELHO: Well, Joyce, I thank God for my epilepsy. I thank God for my epilepsy not only because I ultimately ended up doing the ADA, but I thank God for my epilepsy because it's made me a stronger, better person. I know who I am and I don't have any trouble speaking up and speaking out based on what I think is right.

I'm not always right of course, but I am not afraid to speak up and so I thank God for that.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Yeah. I know. And that's a fact. Hey, it's time for a quick news break. As you know, we have a news break on the half hour every week. And that is Advocacy Matters. We have with us that dynamic anchorwoman and CEO of Disability Rights of Pennsylvania, Peri Jude Radecic. Are you with us?

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC: Joyce, I am. And thanks for having us.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Of course.

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC: Well, Joyce, as we leave our 30th anniversary month of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Advocacy Matters wanted to bring to your listeners' attention a list of legislation that continues the success of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Congress. In the last year and a half, so much of our attention in the disability community has focused on just a few areas during this 116th Congress.

So far we focused on the funding of our programs through the annual appropriations like mental health block grant, homeless community based services, housing vouchers, special education, OVR, SNAP, I could go on, right. So we've been focused on annual appropriations. We've been focused on civil rights issues, too, as we've worked on racism, voting rights, hate crimes, individuals with disabilities and Education Act waivers, and we've responded to the urgent issues like COVID 19.

But as our celebration of the ADA winds down, we don't want to forget that there are members of Congress who have introduced lens that supports disability rights and continues the bipartisan support and efforts of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As always, you can find that list and links to legislation at So, there are things like resolutions. It's not legislation, but it's just a resolution that is the intention of the House or the Senate. And in this instance, just recently, just this week, Representative Hoyer recognized the importance of independent living for individuals with disabilities, made by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

We have the link to House Res 1066 by Representative Hoyer. There are bills like the one introduced by Mary Scanlon of our own Pennsylvania that would amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to increase voting accessibility for individuals with disabilities and older Americans.

Senator Martha, a Republican from Arizona, introduced a bill in February that would prevent the abuse and neglect of individuals with developmental disabilities. There was even a House version by a Democrat in her state of Arizona, Reuben. So there's the bipartisanship we always talk about. And, of course, there are other bills from Senator King, an independent from Maine that would improve home modification assistance. That's Senate Bill 702. I'm not even talking about the many bills that I have on this list and more that you can find if you go to

You can find them on our website now. So really, thank you to all of your listeners and to you, Joyce, for celebrating the ADA, and of course for closing this month by having former Congressman Tony Coelho on to celebrate the ADA this month. Find the list of legislation. Find where your members of Congress are on all of these bills. If you want your member of Congress to cosponsor these pieces of legislation, ask them.

If you want them to stop being a cosponsor of a bill that would weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act, ask them to stop being a cosponsor. It's really that simple. And if you want to change what's going on in Congress, just vote. And that's our message today from Advocacy Matters, Joyce.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Tony, we're so lucky to have Peri Jude, also the CEO, as I mentioned, of Disability Rights of Pennsylvania. And she is a tremendous disability advocate. And every week on this show, she brings this news update. And isn't it amazing that one of them was Steny Hoyer?

>> TONY COELHO: That's right. He and I discussed that this morning, because in there there is a comment about making sure that websites and the internet are accessible, because a study that was done by an independent group that does a study every six months, in February of 2020, they stated that 98.1% of all websites are not accessible to the disability community.

And so Steny plans to work on that. I'm very involved in that. And so it's the next challenge for us to face. We feel that websites and the internet are covered by the ADA. And actually, the courts    the appellate court of the United States, and then the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the appellate court against a pizza company that was saying that their site did not have to be accessible. But the courts ruled that yes, they do, that all websites and the internet have to be accessible.

So now we're working on getting legislation that would enforce that. People are filing lawsuits. In 2019, over 2200 lawsuits were filed. And that's what one of those cases ended up in the Supreme Court.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Wow. Well, Peri Jude, you know I like how you ended it, which is if you want to make a change, vote. So, thank you so much for that great report and thank you for calling in.

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC: Thanks, Joyce. We'll talk to you next week.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Okay. We will talk then. So, Tony, I have a question. Actually, someone was talking about it the other day. But obviously there was a lot of work behind the scenes for you to be able to introduce, as author of the Americans with Disabilities Act. What was it like leading up to that? What was it like, you know, the months before or the year before leading up to this? Was this like a big fight, you know, a lot of tension? What was it like?

>> TONY COELHO: Well, to start off with, Joyce, it's important to recognize that the grassroots community of the disability community, that grassroots was all over the country pushing to get something done. So I was the beneficiary of that grassroots when I introduced it. It was introduced on the Senate side by the senator from Connecticut. So it was bipartisan, bicameral, a Republican. And so that's how we got it started. Now, on the Senate side you had Bob Dole, who is the Republican leader.

You had Ted Kennedy. You had Orrin Hatch, the Republican from Utah. And then you had Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa. The four of them ushered that through. Tom Harkin became the lead author on the Senate side. And then on the House side, what happened is that before I left the Congress, the majority leader called me in and said that he thought this bill was too expansive. The public would react against, and wanted me to withdraw it so it could be study more.

And he was number two in the house, I was number three and I said no, that I was insistent that we move ahead. And so we did. And the fight went on. That's why it was referred to five different committees and several committees to see if we could    if they could slow it down and so forth. But as I indicated, there was so many cosponsors and the work that Steny Hoyer and Steve did, we kept the momentum going.

And in that period between the Senate and the House vote, there were about 15 individuals in wheelchairs who went to the Capitol steps, got out of their wheelchairs, and crawled up the steps. And it's called The Capitol Crawl. But they    the media grabbed hold of that and it became a symbol of the lack of accessibility for these individuals. And a young person was one of them. And that person became sort of the star of all this.

And it was that type of emotional push, that type of support from the general public that realized that we in the disability community didn't have our rights. And so it was that type of struggle. But I want to say that people of color went through that in the '60s. Women went through that in the '70s. The gay community went through that in the '90s. And so we are the last ones on the block, as such, for going through it.

And so time goes on and you've got to keep pushing. It's not perfect. It isn't perfect for people of color. It isn't perfect for us and you've got to keep pushing. But that grassroots support, that individuals out there all over the country with disabilities and their loved ones pushing, educating, that's what made it happen.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Yeah, that was amazing how you could get all those people unified. I mean, that really is amazing, when you think about it. And so many people. And as you said, the grassroots. Well, I, unfortunately, was not there because I did not start Bender Consulting Services until 1995. But you were. What was it like that day, Tony? What was it like for you to be on the lawn at the White House seeing President Bush sign the Americans with Disabilities Act? What was that like?

>> TONY COELHO: Well, President Bush    I call him Papa Bush. He's such a wonderful man. I became very close to he and his family. But watching him sign something that basically released the discrimination, released the negatives that our community had faced for all these years. And then all of a sudden we were legally able to file action against people who discriminated against us. The feeling that day was overwhelming, that this was actually going to happen. Now, I had no idea that this would end up being where it is today, that with the 30th anniversary on Sunday we've had people from all over the country acknowledging that anniversary.

And it's now become one of the landmarks of our country. And then as you've indicated, it's now all over the world. I didn't see that. I didn't expect that. I was only interested in making sure that we were permitted to fight. And we've done that. And we've made progress    a lot more progress to go. But we've made progress. And that is really exciting. Yesterday the platform committee for the Democratic Convention met. We were able to get over 85 references to the disability community, things we need and have a right to.

That more than doubled what it's been in the past. But those are the fights that we've got to keep going at. We can't stop. We've got to keep moving, because there is still discrimination that goes on. Just this year in the middle of the pandemic, Joyce, 25 states were rationing healthcare. That meant for those of us with a disability, we were at the end of the line in regards to healthcare during this epidemic.

And actually, some of the states could legally, under what they adopted, they could take equipment or devices, or whatever, from an individual that was involved with these, they could take it away from them and give it to somebody else that had more legal rights in their opinion. That's a violation of the ADA. We've been fighting it and we've been able to pull it back.

But just in this year, that is still going on. So the fight keeps on going. And so we've got to be willing to stand up to stuff like this. We've got to be willing to talk about it. We've got to be able to fight, because we can win if we fight. We're 25% of the American population. You take one loved one or one caregiver, add it on to that 25%, we're 50% of the population. We have a right to make sure that we're treated just like everybody else.

>> JOYCE BENDER: You know what Tony, I can tell after all these years, you've really lost the fire. You're going to have to work on that.


>> TONY COELHO: Thank you, Joyce. I don't give up.

>> JOYCE BENDER: I know    and he doesn't. Listen, I know Tony extremely well. He's like my brother. I just want you to know, don't think he's just like this on this show or when he's in front of the press or the media. He is like this all the time, all day long. He's always like this. And he's always trying to do something to fight the fight for people with disabilities. He is on fire all the time. So, Tony, I was wondering, since all of this, in your life, what you consider your greatest accomplishment.

And I sort of was thinking of something that you did out in California at your alma mater, a center that you had   

>> TONY COELHO: Joyce, the ADA will always be part of my legacy, and I accept that. But I want my lasting legacy to be the Coelho Center on Disability Rights that I funded at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Basically, what we intend to do there and are doing is to go after some of these issues that I talk about that are still problems today.

One of my major concerns is trying to get people with disabilities graduating from college, in law schools. Law schools don't recruit people with disabilities. And getting law firms to hire people with disabilities. And then getting people with disabilities, after they get their legal degree, to try to get on state courts and federal courts. The laws are being interpreted by the courts. And I want to make sure those of us with disabilities are there helping make those decisions when they come before the court.

We just    at the Coelho Center we just had 17 different law schools join us in this effort from all over the country, join us. And we're going to have more of them do it. I just talked today to another group that is involved with all minority rights, and they want to include disability in regards to judgeships. And we just cut a deal today where they will be part of our effort.

But it is exciting to me that we can actually make an impact, that we can get individuals interested in college. We hire 15 fellows to be part of the Coelho Center. And basically what it is is young men and women    everyone with a disability getting in college, but getting them into law schools and then following their career. Each year, 15, following their careers as they go on to ultimately let us help them in regards to whatever they intend to do with life and trying to get them ultimately, those that want to, ultimately get them on a state or federal court.

>> JOYCE BENDER: That is so awesome. And Tony, that is at your alma mater, correct?

>> TONY COELHO: That's true, that's exactly right, Joyce.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Yes. So, what are the main programs? Is the main thing, then, this passion of yours to see people with disabilities, you know, move into positions in the courts? Is that the main thing that is done at the Coelho Center?

>> TONY COELHO: That is the main thing. That's the real drive and legacy that will last for years and years, if we can ultimately get more people, individuals into law school and law firms and then on courts and so forth. That will continue if you can be successful at that. And I intend for our center to be successful in that. But there's a lot of other things that we do. We do a lot of competing on different issues.

How do we make sure that we can get people with disabilities who have a disability as the actual actor on TV, or on movies and so forth instead of using somebody who doesn't have a disability in the role of a disabled person. But we're very involved in that. We're very involved also in regards to getting equipment that is being built in Silicon Valley and software and so forth to make sure that disability is included in the actual design stage of these products and so forth, as opposed to an accommodation later on.

For example, Apple includes accessibility on voice, sight, on a lot of things in their phones without having to provide an accommodation. It's already designed. It's already built in. And those of you who have an Apple, you can actually enlarge your    the type. You can control the volume. You can do a lot of different things on there that are actually in the design stage. So we're very involved. We've met with businesses in Silicon Valley.

We've met    in northern California, we've met with some of these same companies and others on Silicon Beach they call it Los Angeles, right below Loyola University, by the way. But we've met with them, doing everything we can in these different areas to bring attention to the disability community. Not only people from Los Angeles or California, but people from all over the country. And we're basically a year and a half old and we've done a lot already and we intend to do a lot more.

>> JOYCE BENDER: That is wonderful. How does someone find out about that, Tony, if they want to know more about the Coelho Center? Where do they go to find that out?

>> TONY COELHO: Actually, Joyce, I don't have the address right now. But it would be Loyola University Coelho Center. And you can get it through that.

>> JOYCE BENDER: I know another way you could,

>> TONY COELHO: I like that one better.

>> JOYCE BENDER: This Coelho Center is just unbelievable. It really is. So if you want to know more or if you know a business or anyone that wants to know more about this, you can reach me at, or And I will get you any information that you need about this wonderful, wonderful accomplishment that Tony has put in place. So, Tony, before we end the show, when you think about, you know, this is the 30th anniversary, what do you want to see happen not over just the next 30 years, but the next five years, the next ten years? What do you want to see happen?

>> TONY COELHO: Well, Joyce, I just want more and more for those of us with disabilities to be in decision making places. For example, over the years we've had people say let us take care of you and then close the door and then make a decision without us being at the decision making table. That is changing now. And I would like to see it be automatic. I would like to see people realize that we are capable of helping ourselves, or we're capable of doing things to be helpful to others.

There are many people with a disability that need help, but we should be able to provide that as well. But I want us to be accepted like everybody else in our ability to do things, to get things done and so forth. And part of that is just total respect, is respecting us as individuals and not looking at it as what you perceive that we can't do, but look at us and see what we can do. See how we can be part of society like everybody else.

That is something that I would like to see ultimately just be automatic. But in the next five years, I really want to make sure that we correct this access to the web, and the internet, and so forth. I want to see us get more jobs through business consulting, but getting other companies and the government and so forth to provide more jobs to those of us with disabilities. We have a lot of talent in our community, it just has to be used.

And people, and companies, and government have to reach out to Bender and however to make sure that they hire those of us with disabilities. That's the thing on the short term that I really want to see happen, because the more we do that, the more automatic it becomes so it's not an issue 10 or 20 years from now. When we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ADA I want those things to be yesterday, not tomorrow.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Right. Isn't that the truth. And you know, Tony, I have to tell you, that is shocking about the digital accessibility. That really is.

>> TONY COELHO: Right.

>> JOYCE BENDER: That's terrible, I mean, because without    how can you work for a company if you can't fill out the application? You know.

>> TONY COELHO: And Joyce, think about it. During COVID, you know, people without disabilities all of a sudden realized that they have to use the internet, and the websites in order to order things, buy things, handle finances and so forth. Well, you know, those of us with disabilities, we've had to do that every day without COVID. But with COVID 19, it's even more of an issue for us, because we have no alternative. And so it isn't fair.

It isn't right that those websites and internet are not accessible. And what we need to do is, the law is there now. The courts have said that the ADA requires it. Now we need to get the legislation in to force it. But the courts have said that it's covered by the ADA.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Well, we want to see that. You remember what Peri Jude said and what Tony told you about speaking up? You need to talk about this, you know. You can't just sit in the background and say I wish. You've got to be I am going to do. I'm going to do this. So, Tony, here we are, the end of the show. But I wanted to ask you    and by the way, I think you're awesome in every possible way. I'm blessed to know you.

But Tony, what message would you like to leave with our listeners today?

>> TONY COELHO: First off, I think it's critical that each and every one of you vote. And secondly, it's important that you get your loved ones, your caregivers, your neighbors, to vote, also. Vote as if your life depends on it, because you know what? It does. And it's important that we get people in office who appreciate our community, who want to help our community succeed. We don't want a handout, we just want the opportunity for us to succeed.

And so vote understanding that. Let's all get together. Let's make a huge difference. We have an opportunity to make a big difference in regards to this election. And I don't mean just for president, I mean for the House of Representatives, the Senate, for local legislation and state legislatures or the city council or whatever. We need to be politically involved, so please, vote.

>> JOYCE BENDER: Well, that is a great message to end this show with. But I end the show with a quote. And when you know it's going to be    I'm going to give it to you crystal clear, what Tony was talking about earlier. And that is when you get a chance to take the podium, speak up. And believe me, I have listened to you, Tony. So, this is Tony Coelho, author of the ADA. We all thank him. We all love him. And I will look forward to talking to you all next week.


>> ANNOUNCER: VoiceAmerica would like to thank you for tuning in. Please join us next Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time and 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time for another installment of Disability Matters right here on the VoiceAmerica Variety Channel. We are the leader in talk radio,


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(Session concluded at 1:58 p.m. CT)



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