The Liberty Bell Award, presented annually by the Nassau County Bar Association to an individual or organization outside the legal profession, will be confered on West Hempstead resident Lucy Wong-Hernandez, executive director of Disabled Peoples' International, on Monday, May 1 at its Law Day Luncheon. The award acknowledges that responsibility for preserving and strengthening the American justice system rests not solely on legislators and legal professionals but on a partnership between government and governed which is essential to ensure the continued integrity of the American legal system. In bestowing the award each year, the Nassau County Bar Association accords recognition to men and women who have exhibited commitment to promoting understanding of the constitution and Bill of Rights; encouraged greater respect for law and the courts, stimulated a deeper sense of individual responsibility so that citizens recognize their duties as well as their rights; contributed to the effective functioning of our institutions of government; or, fostered a better understanding and appreciation of the rule of law.
This year's recipient, Lucy Wong-Hernandez, has demonstrated an exceptional level of commitment and energy to ensuring that individuals with disabilities are afforded the protection of law and granted the same rights to which all citizens are entitled. She has made this her life's work as executive director of Disabled Peoples' International, and has received the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Award in 1990, attributed to her leadership role and contributions to the enactment of the ADA in the United States. She has also been recognized for her leadership and social protection policy contributions to the Long Island and New York City community as well as nationally.
Wong-Hernandez devotes much of her efforts to increasing public awareness of the abilities of persons with disabilities and the elderly and the contributions they can and should make to their communities. She encourages greater respect for laws that prohibit discrimination and marginalization of citizens, such as the American with Disabilities Act. She promotes the inclusion of women with disabilities issues in the women's civil rights movement agenda for equal opportunity and the protection and care for older citizens. Most recently, Wong-Hernandez was inducted into the National Hall of Fame of Persons with Disabilities for her notable work and contributions to the disability field nationally and worldwide.
Wong-Hernandez has paraplegia from a spinal cord injury. She appears frequently as presenter and keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and has written extensively on disability, advocacy and policy. She holds a masters degree in gerontology from Hofstra University, and is presently pursuing her doctoral degree in social welfare policy at Adelphi University. She is currently an adjunct faculty in the Department of Counseling, Research, Special Education and Rehabilitation at Hofstra University.
The Nassau County Bar Association, with a membership of almost 6,000 attorneys and judges, demonstrates its commitment to the community, offering a variety of services for the public, including no-fee senior citizen clinics, a Lawyer Referral Service, public education programs and support of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, which provides much-needed legal services for the indigent of Nassau County. For information, call 747-4070.