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Former ECNV Board Members Honored with Accessibility Excellence Awards
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
by: Amir Rahimi, Communications Manager

Section: Example Section Two

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brianna Gross -- 703/673-4497 --

Washington, DC, January 18, 2018 -- Robert “Robbie” Werth, President and Founder of Diamond Transportation, and Bryna Helfer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement, United States Department of Transportation, will be honored for their work in accessible transportation by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) and the WMATA Department of Access Services. Both awardees are former Board Members of the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV), a disability advocacy and resource center run by and for people with disabilities. ECNV applauds Mr. Werth and Dr. Helfer for their outstanding work to improve accessibility for people with disabilities in the Washington Metro Area. 

Mr. Werth will be awarded the Richard W. Heddinger Accessible Transportation Award. Mr. Werth is the President and Founder of Diamond Transportation, which provides paratransit services for Alexandria City Public Schools and Alexandria’s DOT Paratransit Program. Since 1984, Diamond Transportation has provided paratransit service, call center management, shuttle bus service, driver training, and transportation management. Diamond Transportation has worked with WMATA’s MetroAccess program from the founding of the program in 1994. Mr. Werth also worked with the Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities (ACPD) to establish the Alexandria DOT Paratransit Program.

The Heddinger Award was established by the WMATA Elderly and Disabled Advisory Committee which was subsequently re-charted as the WMATA AAC, to posthumously honor its first chairman, Richard W. Heddinger. Mr. Heddinger’s advocacy led to the inclusion of elevators in all Metrorail stations at the opening of the subway system in 1976 and his subsequent efforts ensured that Metro buses would be fully accessible. Mr. Heddinger, a post-polio survivor and wheelchair user, was also a member of the ECNV Board of Directors and its President from 1986-1987. Every year the Heddinger Award is presented to an advocate who significantly improved the accessibility of Metro.

Dr. Helfer will be awarded the Dr. Rosalyn Simon Award. At the U.S. Department of Transportation, Dr. Helfer serves as an advisor to Anthony Foxx, the Secretary of Transportation. She also works closely with the White House on accessible transportation and other disability rights issues. For over 30 years, Dr. Helfer has been a leading advocate in disability rights. Among her many roles and accomplishments in transportation accessibility, she was a senior advisor for the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility to enhance transportation services for people with disabilities, older adults, and individuals with low incomes.

Dr. Rosalyn Simon, the namesake of the award, was a leading advocate in the disability community and Metro’s Transit Accessibility Center is dedicated to her. The award is presented annually to an individual or organization that has improved the advancement of accessible transportation through education, training, and advocacy.

“ECNV is thrilled Mr. Werth and Dr. Helfer are being recognized for their outstanding work in transportation accessibility,” said Lee Page, ECNV Board President. “I cannot think of advocates more deserving of these awards.”

Mr. Werth and Dr. Helfer will accept their awards at the Fourth Annual WMATA Accessibility Excellence Awards on November 18, 2015. The program starts at 5:30 pm at Metro’s headquarters, the Jackson Graham Building, 600 Fifth Street, NW, in Washington DC.

The ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, Inc. (ECNV) is a community-based resource and advocacy center which is managed by and for people with disabilities. ECNV promotes independent living (IL) philosophy and equal access for all persons with disabilities. We operate from a philosophy of consumer control and peer-to-peer relationships to empower people with all types of disabilities to direct their own lives.
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