Harvard Law School Visiting Professor Michael Ashley Stein ’88 was awarded the 2013 Viscardi Award, which honors people living with disabilities for their work and influence in the global disability community.
With Harvard Law School Professor William Alford ‘77, Stein co-founded the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, which works to promote the human rights of people with disabilities worldwide. (See profile of HPOD, “Able Lawyering,” in the Summer 2011 Harvard Law Bulletin.) Stein is executive director of the Project.
The Cabell Professor of Law at the William & Mary School of Law, Stein is one of the world’s foremost experts on disability law and rights. He participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, works with disabled persons organizations around the world, actively consults with international governments on their disability laws and policies, and advises a number of United Nations bodies.
“I am extremely honored to receive an Award named for Henry Viscardi, who had a great deal of influence on improving the lives of people with disabilities,” Stein said. “Protecting the human and civil rights of persons with disabilities remains a global issue and requires systemic changes and broad collaboration to ensure that progress continues to be made.”
The Viscardi Award is named after Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities. The March 4 award announcement coincides with the 80th anniversary of the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who as a member of the disability community was among the most influential figures of the 20th century and one of eight presidents whom Viscardi advised during his lifetime.
As someone with a disability (a rare illness left him in a wheelchair at 14), Stein has worked to debunk stereotypes, and his research offers innovative legal strategies and policy ideas that are regularly published in America’s prestigious law journals. In July 2012, the Boston Globe Magazine named him one of “12 Bostonians Changing the World.”
In December of 2012, President Obama named Stein a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The council serves as the governing board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Stein also serves in the UNICEF Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities, and is a founding advisory board member of the Israeli Disability Research Forum.