It is amazing to me that Access Press has been in existence for 20 years. It seems like just yesterday when I was sitting with Charlie Smith, his mom and dad at the word processing store discussing the concept of a disability paper.
Charlie’s vision back then was there are so many different aspects of the disability community and different needs and issues, how can we have one focal point to express the needs and the stories of the disability community big picture. Hence the birth of Access Press. It was my distinct pleasure to serve on the board of directors from 1995 to 2003. I’m amazed to think of all the stories and all the issues that have been covered over the years. The world has changed with the Internet and real-time information. But Access Press has been able to survive and thrive despite the changing world around us.
In one sense there is more of a need for Access Press now than ever. In an economic environment with limited resources how do we focus and mobilize the various issues of the disability community and use the power of the many!
I remember sitting with Charlie in his hospital bed at Abbott Northwestern Hospital as he was dying. We were discussing how his legacy would live on because of his passion and believe that the disability community needed and deserved a voice. We discussed Tim Benjamin and his passion for the same ideals that Charlie had and how he would be a great successor to keep Charlie’s legacy going.
Little did Tim know back then of the trials and tribulations of running a small newspaper. I know Tim has looked at that picture of Charlie in the office and cussed Charlie more than once. But Charlie saw the passion that Tim had and the proof is in the pudding regarding the quality and sustainability that Access Press has had over the years.
Now more than ever it is imperative that we keep the dream alive. The ADA is also celebrating its 20 year anniversary that is no coincidence that there have been ebbs and flows regarding how this legislation has affected the disability community.
We need to rededicate ourselves to the ideals and visions that Charlie and the host of other people that have been involved with the paper over the last 20 years have held.
Congratulations, to Access Press for maintaining the vision and the legacy. Congratulations to Tim Benjamin for keeping the dream alive!
Steve Kuntz past board member and chairman of the Access Press Board, 1995-2003.