Separate bills have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate
seeking a congressional gold medal to be awarded to Dr. Timothy Nugent, “in recognition of his
pioneering work on behalf of people with disabilities, including
Davis, R-Ill., introduced H.R. 3223 on July 27. The bill was referred to
the House Committee on Financial Services. Sen. Mark Kirk,
R-Ill., introduced the Senate version, S. 1863, also on July 27. S. 1863 was referred
to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Dubbed the “Father of Accessibility,” Nugent, in 1948 founded the
first higher education program for wounded and disabled soldiers in
the world after World War II at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign with the Division
of Disability Resources. Nugent served as a professor of
rehabilitation education and director of DRES and the Rehabilitation
Education Center until his retirement in 1985.
Under Nugent’s leadership, the University of Illinois became a
pioneer of architectural access, adding curb cuts and
wheelchair-accessible bus routes that Nugent himself designed.
According to the two bills, “many of the architectural accessibility
standards and laws of the United States trace back directly to
innovations created by Nugent.”
Nugent also founded the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in
1949 and served as its commissioner for the first 25 years.
Legislation language would permit the Treasury secretary to direct
the U.S. Mint to strike duplicates of the congressional gold medal for
sale to the public.
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