(A newsletter for the faculty, staff, and trainees of Baylor College of Medicine, August, 2004, from page one)
Making a World of Difference
for Disabled People Around the World
Most people hope their efforts make a difference. There’s no question
when it comes to
As BCM Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Senior Vice President of The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR), Frieden manages several research programs on independent living for those with disabilities and oversees the implementation of the American’s Disabilities Act (ADA).
Frieden became interested in working for the rights of the disabled after he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him without any use of his lower body and partial use of his arms. After his accident, he went to TIRR for rehabilitation. He said that working for the place that helped him recover has been rewarding.
“Most patients at TIRR feel a deep connectedness and achievement when they complete the program. Now I get to influence the policy of the program that made a tremendous impact on my life,” said Frieden.
His personal experiences led him to a curiosity about the research being
done on people with disabilities. At the time, there was very little public
policy in the area. Since obtaining his Masters in Social Psychology at the
“My association with these programs is especially important because I’m able to bring my personal experiences into play because my family and I are kind of a ‘living lab,’” explained Frieden, who has been married to his wife Joyce, who also uses a wheelchair due to a rare disease, for more than 25 years. The couple also lives with long-time friend Mac Brodie, who suffered a brain injury in the late 1960s, and their grandson Trey, 13. They live together not only as an independent living situation, but also as a family. “The key to our successful relationships is cooperation, collaboration, synergy, and symbiosis. We strive to work as a unit. Like any healthy family, we are mutually supportive of each other and make compromises,” said Frieden.
his public policy efforts to the national level when he served, from 1984 to
1988, as Executive Director of the National Council on Disability (then called
the National Council on the Handicapped), an independent federal agency located
in Washington, D.C. During his tenure, he was instrumental in creating and
drafting the text for the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA), which is something of a Bill of Rights for the disabled. “The
continues his work with the National Council on
Disability. He was appointed to a three-year term as Chairperson by
President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on
Frieden is also
making a difference in the lives of disabled people around the world. He is part
of the United Nations Panel of Experts
on the Standard Rules for Disability, which is a multi-national panel
of experts who are drafting text for an international treaty to address the
needs and rights of the disabled worldwide. “Since I had been involved with the
Frieden also serves as President of Rehabilitation International, a federation of 200 national and international organizations and agencies in 90 countries working for the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities and their families within society.
As Frieden looks
toward the future, he sees even more challenges. “The
It’s good to know that Frieden continues to dedicate himself to making a difference in the lives of this generation and those to come.