Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on December 9th, 2014

Terry Moakley: A disabled rights activist whose actions led to major changes that helped the disabled worldwide.

Terence J. Moakley
Terence J. Moakley   Photo: itodaynews.com

Terry, who recently passed away at age 69, was a quadriplegic (paralyzed arms and legs) who lived in New York City.

New York City, as with most big cities, resists change, even if it is to help the disabled.

In 2004, in this city crowded with pedestrians and traffic, Terry with six other wheelchair bound people staged a "roll-in" at a busy New York City taxi stand to show everyone there is no taxicab accessibility for the disabled.

During this roll-in, traffic on the streets and sidewalks became a nightmare, and it became a public relations disaster for New York City.

When the city still refused to update the taxi fleet to accommodate the disabled, Terry and others under the name Taxis for All Campaign filed a suit to compel the city to do so.

It took 10 years of perseverance and on September 16th, 2014 the city settled the suit agreeing to provide 7,000 disabled accessible vehicles by 2020.

But this is just one of the breakthroughs Terry and his colleagues were responsible for in New York, with national and international implications.

In the 1970's they successfully sued so disabled people could access subways and busses.

Later in the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990), the U.S. government included that access as part of a nationwide law.

Meanwhile Terry paid people to chart New York City streets to document street corners with no wheelchair curb cuts. He then successfully encouraged city officials to make those curb cuts.

Terry also served on the New York State Building Code Council, helping draft accessibility rules so disabled people could get in and out of buildings and restrooms.

But Terry's own story was not at first one of disability.

He received a bachelor's degree in English from St. John's University and was so able bodied, he then became a U.S. Marine.

But an accident can disable anyone and in Terry's case, a diving accident made him quadriplegic.

Terry spent the next two years in a hospital suffering from his dire and depressing consequences and going through rehabilitation.

Then despite his severe physical limitations, Terry earned a master's degree in comparative literature from Hofstra University and became an activist for the rights of disabled people.

Such an activist, that his wife and caregiver Daisy told the New York Times that whenever they travelled, Terry insisted on investigating public transportation and using it if possible.

"He loved public transportation," she told the Times. "I swear he thought it was his personal roller coaster."

Success Tip of the Week: Terry overcame enormous disability to help change the world. Think of what you could do if you pursue your dreams with equal vigor.

Editor's Note: To learn more, click here, here and here.

In the next KazanToday: The first woman to make a solo flight around the world.

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