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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two individuals—a University of Iowa staff member and a graduate student—will be honored for their contributions to creating awareness and support for those with disabilities at the UI Disability Celebration.

The event will be Thursday, Oct. 17, from 4 to 5 p.m. in Suite 2520 of the University Capitol Centre in downtown Iowa City. It is free and open to the public.

The UI Disability Celebration will be held from 4 to 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 17, in
Suite 2520 of University Capitol Center.

The event is free and open to the public.

During the celebration, UI President Sally Mason will present two awards. Mike Hoenig will receive the Above and Beyond Award, and Travis Taylor will receive the 2013 David and Rosalie Braverman Scholarship.

Exemplary leader and role model

Hoenig, a program coordinator for state and community projects at the Center for Disabilities and Development in UI Children's Hospital, will receive the Above and Beyond Award. This award is given by the UI Disability Planning and Action Committee in recognition of Hoenig’s innovative and distinctive efforts to enhance the opportunities of individuals with disabilities at the UI.

Mike Hoenig
Mike Hoenig

Hoenig, who is blind, was described as follows by his nominators: "Mike is passionate and committed to doing anything that will assure people with disabilities have the advocacy skills and support they need to be active participants in the communities where they live, learn, work, and play. Mike serves as an exemplary leader and model for others to follow. His enthusiasm, strong work ethic, creativity, and willingness to partner with others to enhance the lives of all individuals with disabilities are admirable."

He took the lead in authoring the Hawkeye Accessibility Ambassador (HAA) program, designed to equip students with disabilities with the necessary leadership skills to be successful and to provide them with the opportunity to apply those skills towards achieving greater physical access on campus.

In 2012, Hoenig coordinated Iowa’s participation in a regional advocacy summit sponsored by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The summit was convened to assist states in forming advocacy organizations, which will help assure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to share their opinions on services, supports, and policies which impact their lives.

Another major contribution has been Hoenig's persistence in advocating for accessible electronic surveys, workflow tools, and websites at the university. He also volunteers his time to work with developers and IT to make modifications or suggestions that improve accessibility for people with vision impairment and prefers to test new tools being considered before they are purchased for full use throughout the university.

Hoenig is a member of the diversity and health literacy workgroup within UI Hospitals and Clinics where he focuses on developing policies and materials that assure people with disabilities are able to access quality health care. He also serves as an active member on the Council on Disability Awareness.

Hoenig extends his passion for disability advocacy to various volunteer activities. As a Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society board member, he consistently advocates to ensure that the transportation needs of jazz festival patrons are met. He is a frequent visitor to elementary and secondary school classrooms, combining presentation, Q&A, and hands-on experience with assistive technology to teach students that persons who are blind lead normal, productive lives.

He received his Master of Arts in rehabilitation counseling from the UI College of Education in 1987.

Positive, motivated to help others

Taylor, a UI graduate student in the College of Education's Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling degree program in the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education, will receive the 2013 David and Rosalie Braverman Scholarship.

Travis Taylor
Travis Taylor

Taylor, of Callender, Iowa, a quadriplegic, was his high school’s first state wrestling champion and was heavily recruited by a number of colleges. Due to a swimming accident, Taylor broke his C5 vertebrae and became paralyzed from the chest down in 2010.

Following a three-week stay in intensive care, Taylor was stable enough to be transferred to Craig Hospital, a spinal cord rehabilitation hospital in Colorado. The first task facing him was changing his attitude of thinking that his life was over to fighting for all the recovery he could in terms of regaining muscle and motion within his arms.

Due to this determination, Taylor went from lying in a bed, to an electric wheelchair, and finally to a manual chair with power assist wheels. By the time he was able to leave Craig Hospital the counselors were asking him to talk to incoming patients to show them the impossible was achievable.

From this experience was born the idea that Taylor would work hard to finish his college education and go to graduate school to become a rehabilitation counselor to be able to help others.

Taylor was able to learn how to drive a modified car and to drive himself to therapy and to an internship at Community Family Resource where he learned to help individuals with substance abuse problems lead more productive lives.

In his letters of recommendation for the scholarship, his nominators applauded Taylor universally on his motivation, commitment, dedication, integrity, and good character.

The Braverman Scholarship is given annually to graduate students with disabilities who have demonstrated academic excellence and who have contributed to the betterment of their undergraduate institutions and communities.

Student Disability Services administers the Braverman scholarship program with private funds provided by the Braverman family. Since 1979, when the scholarship was first given, 101 Braverman scholarships have been awarded. Taylor will be the 102nd recipient.

To read a related story on hearing loops, visit Bringing people with hearing assistance needs into the 'loop'

Bringing people into the 'loop'

There will also be a presentation on the installment of hearing loops on the UI campus.

The UI Chief Diversity Office is sponsoring the celebration with support from the following: the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity in the Chief Diversity Office, Student Disability Services, Faculty and Staff Disability Services, ITS, and UI Facilities Management.

The Iowa Regents Institutions 2013 Disability Awareness Summit and UI Disability Celebration Thursday, Oct. 17,are just two of many events and initiatives taking place on the UI campus and in the local community during October as National Disability Awareness Month.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to attend the celebration, contact the UI Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity in the Chief Diversity Office in advance at 319-335-0705, 319-335-0697 (TDD), or at