When notified he had been selected to receive the award, an astonished Williams replied, “Wow! Why me?” Later he said, “I am humbled and honored to receive this award. It means a lot to be recognized by my peers.”
The Strache Leadership Award was established and first presented in 1988 to Dr. Fred Strache. The award acknowledges the leadership of the recipient in the field of disability and technology. Specifically, the award acknowledges that the recipient continues to educate, to work with students as an educator and as a mentor, while remaining a leader in their respective field through publications, presentations and research.
Dr. Fred Strache, who retired from CSUN in 2001, held many positions, including VP for student affairs. He was a very active and progressive administrator, but his primary emphasis was always on students. Regardless of the type of project discussed with him, he would be supportive, but always ask what the benefits to students would be.
Williams celebrates his 30th year in the disability movement this year.
Regarding assistive technology, he writes a column for Action Magazine, and he co-authors a monthly column for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
In 1982, Mr. Williams coined the phrase “Assistive Technology.” Since then, it has become a universal word in describing products benefiting people with disabilities.
He is also the former founder and former publisher of Assistive Technology News, a tabloid newspaper covering assistive technology products and disabilities issues.
For 28 years, Williams has been writing on assistive technology’s benefits to people with disabilities. He has written more than 2,000 articles on disability issues. He is credited with raising the awareness of disability issues, and the benefits of assistive technology to an international level.
Since he started writing about disability issues, he has interviewed former Texas Governor George Bush when he was running for the presidency in 2000, former Vice President Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Janet Reno, Clint Eastwood, Governor Jesse Ventura, Newt Gingrich, former Senator Max Cleland, Congressman Jim Langevin, Vinton Cerf (one of the founding fathers of the Internet), Country Western singer Mel Tillis, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, and other noted people in the disability arena.
Mr. Williams’ former Business Week on-line column won the Easter Seals Equality, Dignity and Integrity Award, the Stuttering Foundation of America’s 2000 Journalism Award, TASH Media Award, and the California Media Access Award. His column was a contributing factor for Business Week Online receiving the New Media Excellence Award in 2000, for Easter Seals giving Business Week its leadership corporate award in 1999, and for McGraw Hill Publishing Company receiving the American Foundation for the Blind’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his 20 years of writing about products benefiting blind people. In November 2000, he received the Charles Van Riper Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in writing about stuttering and his leadership in promoting opportunities for people with speech impediments.
He has written five books, edited two books on the environment, one on poetry and a NASA publication on A History of Sunspots. He has had two short stories and a dozen poems published.
His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times, Houston Post, Los Angeles Times, The London Times, People Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, Mass Transit Magazine, NEA Today, Business Week Magazine, Government Computer News, and Nation’s Business Magazine.
He has had more than 1,500 articles published. His latest book titled “Assistive Technologies: Exploring a Universe of Opportunities for People with Disabilities,” published in 2003 by the CTC Foundation, can be previewed at www.atn-ctcf.org.
In June 2004 he was a featured speaker at a Beijing U.S./China Conference on Educating Students with Special Needs.
Mr. Williams is married, and he and his wife have three children. He reads French, Latin and historical biographies. He graduated from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. He loves camping, hiking, fishing and attending baseball games.
(L to r) Jim Fruchterman, John Williams, and Harry Murphy