This website has been a blessing and a headache. It grew out of my compulsion to write a book on the history of the Disability Rights Movement and the origin and development of the ADA; and out of my failure to complete such a book. It was born out of the inspired idea of my wife, Andi Farbman, that maybe a website was a better way to tell my stories and share my experiences and insights. Going from that idea to this website has been incredibly rewarding and unbelievably complicated, difficult, and exhausting. I could never have made it to the point of launching this website without the astounding assistance and tenacious support of a remarkable band of generous, highly capable people.
As a technological minimalist, I have needed all the help I could get on the I.T. aspects of starting and launching a website, and making it accessible and user-friendly. Fortunately, some technology-savvy individuals came to the rescue. Jeff Harrison of focus4digital.com agreed to become our Web Designer, and Tiago Tavares our Web Developer. They have put in untold hours guiding us as we have put together the website, and have piloted us expertly through the complexities and shoals of getting it ready to launch.
In addition, we have had the assistance of a knowledgeable and hands-on bunch of advisors who have brought us up to speed on many conceptual and technical issues that have arisen; many thanks to Angie Elkins, Jeff Farbman, Tawna Grasty, Kevin Grasty, Norman Klotz, and John Solomon. John, a PDF wizard, deserves an extra pat on the back, as he, Barbara Else, and Tracy Bowdish have gone many extra miles in enhancing the accessibility of the site for individuals with vision impairments. We’ve also had the good fortune to have enlisted the aid of Tim Creagan, Senior Accessibility Specialist at the U.S. Access Board and a Section 508 guru.
We’re very indebted to what I think of as “Team Burgdorf,” our daughters and their partners: Arielle Burgdorf, Molly Burgdorf and Etan Wexler, and Gigi Burgdorf and Jon Geraghty. They have all pitched in with very helpful feedback and website logistics advice, drawing upon their impressive range of talents and expertise.
For the extended period during which we’ve been developing and putting finishing touches on the website, we’ve been encouraged and supported by people we’re close to who have served as an informal cheering section rooting for us. For such backing and belief in this project, we are much indebted to: Ann Gale and Ray Serafin, Tricia McKinney, Marian Osterweis, Margie Varney, Elizabeth Samuels and Ira Burnim, Mary Adamek, Wendy and Bob Morris, our daughter Dorney, and our grandkids Kira and Conor.
A major focus of this site is to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions to the Disability Rights Movement of many remarkable individuals – an objective that, in addition to the narrative content, I plan to pursue in “profiles” of many of my outstanding colleagues in the disability rights field. I want, however, to acknowledge here the critical role in my work and the development of the ADA of Lex Frieden, who hired me to work at the National Council on Disability, gave me the opportunity to work on drafting the Council’s ADA bill introduced in Congress in 1988, who was a true believer in the ADA from the very beginning, and who served as a critically important broker of the legislation to the disability community, NCD, the White house, and the Congress. Thanks, Lex; without you we wouldn’t have an ADA to celebrate.
I cannot begin to describe all the things that my wonderful wife Andi, Dr. Andrea Farbman, has done to establish, nurture, and enhance this website, but let me just mention a few: She concocted the idea that I should refashion my numerous writings about the Disability Rights Movement and the ADA into a website. She researched how one creates a website and contacted people who could help us do it. She envisioned the website, and talked through with me the organization and content of the writing and reworking I’d need to do. She acted as sounding board for my ideas and approaches, and told me when they were wrong. She suggested alternatives and negotiated with me to arrive at better written materials. She thoroughly edited every bit of text that I wrote. She used her prior professional contacts and marshalled experts who could give us advice and help solve problems that arose. She was unbending in her insistence that the site would have the best possible accessibility for people with visual impairments, and spent hundreds of hours redoing PDFs and proofreading documents to ensure the accuracy of recopied documents. She did most of the logistics and production work on the site.
On top of all that, somehow, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and all the disruption and tension that it has engendered, Andi managed to mostly keep on an even keel, dealt with whatever came up, and was even able to cope constructively with a husband who was often tired, overwrought, nitpicky, and ill-tempered. I am delighted with the launch of this website, but what makes me even more pleased is knowing what a superfine life partner I have, and how much the site is a reflection of her tireless love, labor, and brilliance.