Noted disability rights advocate Michael Winter passes away
Dear Campus Community,
It saddens me greatly to report that Michael Winter, a giant among disability rights advocates, passed away on July 11. For almost 50 years, Mr. Winter, a lifelong wheelchair user, worked tirelessly to ensure inclusion for people with disabilities, particularly in the area of accessible transportation.
One of Mr. Winter's most effective roles in raising social consciousness about disability rights was his interview, along with other disability rights leaders, in Eric Nuedel's award winning documentary, Lives Worth Living, about the history of the American disability rights movement-including Deaf President Now. Mr. Winter and other noted disability rights leaders honored Gallaudet with their presence on campus March 14 during our 25th annual celebration of DPN for a panel discussion and a screening of the film.
At the time of his death, Mr. Winter served our country as senior program analyst with the Office of Research Management, Federal Transit Administration, for the U.S. Department of Transportation. He began his crusade for equality for people with disabilities in the 1960s, an era when accessibility for all was virtually unknown, and nothing short of a dream for these individuals. Mr. Winter put his dreams into action, beginning in the 1960s when he and other students with disabilities at Southern Illinois University chained a wheelchair to the university president's desk to illustrate the need for accessible transportation.
From that point until his untimely passing, Mr. Winter dedicated his life to championing accessibility rights. In addition to serving as a former president of the National Council on Independent Living and a member of the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit Board of Directors in California, Mr. Winter went on to hold a number of positions with the U.S. Department of Transportation. For more than a decade, he was responsible for ensuring the implementation of federal civil rights related to important legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program.
Please join me in reflecting on the life of Mr. Winter and others like him whose hard work has ultimately improved life for people with disabilities.