ICS Podcast: Independence Radio!
At age 7, just as she was starting her second grade year, Anna Fay ran home excitedly to tell her mother that she had been advanced to the third grade. A week later, she was in the hospital with polio, and her career as a school girl came to an abrupt end.
At a time before children in wheelchairs had the right to attend school, Anna would get all her elementary, middle school and high school education from teachers who visited her at home, often no more than five hours a week. It was only during summer, at a camp for children with disabilities, that Anna spent time learning with her peers.
The classroom experience was something she yearned for, so after finishing high school courses and passing her Regents Exams, Anna resolved to go to community college, no matter the barriers she might find as a person using a wheelchair, to learn the skills necessary to become a medical administrator.
She was also motivated by the need to survive. “My parents, and my mother in particular, would say to me, ‘We’re not always going to be here,’” Anna recalls. “She had an absolute right to say it, and it was important to say it, but it always threatened the hell out of me. ‘We’re not always going to be here and you need to figure out how you’re going to make it.’”
Looking back, Anna gives her mother a lot of credit for sowing the seeds of what would become in her a fierce drive toward personal independence and a need to make the world a more accommodating place for people with disabilities. But you have to give Anna credit for her own courage, optimism and fighting spirit.
Listen to Anna Fay’s Story!
Anna reminisces with host Stephanie Wallace about her life-long involvement with disability issues in a new episode of Independence Radio.
Many members of the ICS community know Anna as an expert in independent living and a warm, super-helpful advocate and friend. She’s also a veteran of some of the most important achievements of the disability rights movement to date. As you will hear, Anna tells Stephanie about her involvement, during the era before curb cuts and accessible buses, in the protests, lobbying efforts and coalition building that brought civil rights for people with disabilities from obscurity in the early 1970s into the mainstream of American life. She explains how her experiences as a medical administrator and political activist came together when she joined ICS as first a board member and then Senior Vice President of Independent Living.
When she first learned of ICS while working as the administrator of the department of rehabilitation medicine at Mt. Sinai, Anna says, “I thought, this is really interesting because ICS was kind of outside the walls of the hospital, and I had always been inside the walls fighting for what was outside the walls.”
The engrossing conversation between these two strong, independent women also touches on philosophical questions about what it means to be a person with a disability. What is the difference between “independent living” and “disability rights?” Why do some more than others feel the “fire in the belly” for the fight for full equality? And, in the debate about assisted suicide, whose life is it, anyway? The answers may surprise you; they’ll certainly make you think.
For more great conversations about health and independent living for people with disabilities and chronic conditions and senior adults, be sure to stay tuned to Independence Radio!