The Huntsville Area Committee on Employment of People With Disabilities was formed in 1968 on LEAP Year Day, to help the community LEAP ahead in its awareness of the abilities and accomplishments of people with disabilities. On that day, a representative from the President's Disabilities met with twenty community leaders to discuss forming a local committee on Employment of People With Disabilities. Huntsville's committee was the first local People With Disabilities organization to be formed in Alabama.
Over the years, the work of the committee has been enhanced by the increased awareness of people with disabilities, both locally and nationwide. In 1992, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed. This law made it illegal for employers to discriminate against people with disabilities, and it also required employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Transportation systems and public places (i.e. restaurants, hotels, stores) were required to remove barriers and to make their services and products accessible. The ADA extended to state and local governments, making discrimination and failure to accommodate disabilities illegal. Telephone companies were required to offer telephone relay services to individuals who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs).
The term "handicapped," was eventually replaced with more appropriate terms such as "person with a disability," and "wheelchair user." "National Employ the Handicapped Week" was replaced with "National Disabilities Month," celebrated each year in October.
1973 - Melvin E. Schoonover, author of Letters to Polly...on the Gift of Affliction
1974 - Robert A. "Red" Graham, former star of radio's "Duffy's Tavern"
1975 - Dr. Dennis R. Wyant of the President's Committee and former Executive Director of the Blinded Veterans Association
1977 - Miss Evelyn D. Anderson, "Alabama Handicapped Professional Woman of the Year"
1983 - John Stallworth Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
1984 - Harold Russell, Chairman of the President's Committee
1986 - David Prowse, actor from London, England who played the part of Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" movie
1998 - Kirk Thomas, founder and Executive Director of "Wheelin' Sportsman of America, Inc."
2002 - Ellen Bomer, last person rescued alive from the Kenyan Embassy bombing.
2004 - David Milton, injured in a motorcycle accident which left him blind and physically disabled.
2005 - Evon Black, Hearing Impaired professional sales representative for Sprint.
2006 - Clay Dyer, professional bass fisherman born with no legs, no left arm and a right arm that stops at the elbow.
2008 - Attorney Jeff Roth, Fees & Burgess, P.C.
2010 - Attorney J. Patrick Hackney, Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP), Tuscaloosa, AL