Stephanie Woodward: Activist and Power Wheelchair User
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Stephanie graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University, with a Juris Doctorate in law, and a Master of Science in cultural foundations of education. Her concentration also earned her a certificate of advanced study in disability studies. While in school, Stephanie worked on the disability council of Senator Tom Harkin, who authored the bill that created the American Disabilities Act. She also completed an internship at Empire Justice, a non-profit legal organization in Rochester that helps people with disabilities get the proper legal services they need. While completing her law degree, Stephanie was a research assistant for the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, which works to advance the civic, economic and social participation of people with disabilities.
Stephanie, who was born with spina bifida, is a consumer advocate for Quantum Rehab®, and uses a Q6 Edge® 2.0 Power Wheelchair with iLevel® technology. The elevated seating gives Stephanie greater independence at home. Before iLevel, Stephanie hated cooking because she had a hard time reaching the countertop and stove. Thanks to her power wheelchair’s seat elevation, cooking is so much easier. Plus, the ability to drive the power wheelchair at walking speed allows Stephanie to keep up with her nieces and nephew. And when it’s time to change their diapers, iLevel allows her to elevate to a diaper changing station easily.
Stephanie is heavily involved with the disability community. She is the director of a disability rights organization, the Center for Disability Rights. Stephanie and her team host many events for the disability community. For Halloween, the organization hosts an event called Accessible Trick-or-Treat for over three hundred children with and without disabilities. The event is designed to provide a safe, fully accessible place for the kids to go trick-and-treating.
In addition, Stephanie is an organizer with the disability rights group ADAPT, a grassroots organization that fights for the rights of people with disabilities.
Stephanie has received a lot of recognition for her efforts. In 2017, she was awarded the David Veatch Advocacy Achievement Award by the N.Y. Association on Independent Living. The award recognized her leadership and actions for protecting Medicaid and access to long-term services and support.
Stephanie also received the Silver Sweeper Award in 2017, given to her by the mayor’s office of the city of Rochester. The award recognized her efforts in helping Rochester become a more accessible and welcoming city for people with disabilities.
Stephanie has also received the Finn Bueller’s Advocate of the Year Award from the United Spinal Association, due to her work helping to draft the Disability Integration Act and her activism to create more accessible and disability-friendly communities. Plus, the National Council on Independent Living presented her with the Corey Rowley National Advocacy Award, for her efforts in encouraging candidates to support disability rights in the 2016 presidential election, as well as creating the “Live On” campaign to curb the suicide rate of disabled individuals.
In her spare time, Stephanie loves spending time with her friends and family, especially her nieces and nephew. She is an avid cat lover, and recently adopted a dog.