News Release

Laurie E. Bick-Jensen
Director, Public Relations
320 DuPont Highway
New Castle, DE 19720
(302) 295-1164

Former Congressman and ADA Author Tony Coelho to Speak at Wilmington University

Introduction to be made by DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf

Tony Coelho, former Congressman and primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), will be the featured speaker in the next installment of Wilmington University’s Speaker Series on Wednesday, March 19. 

The event, hosted by Wilmington University’s College of Business, will take place from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. in the Doberstein Admissions Center auditorium on the University's New Castle Campus. The event is free and open to students, faculty and the public.

During his talk, “The Fight for Disability Rights – Then and Now,” Mr. Coelho will recount his involvement in authoring, sponsoring and championing the ADA, signed into law in 1990, and will discuss where the law stands today.

"I look forward to sharing Delaware's appreciation for all the good that the Americans with Disabilities Act has done and will do in the future with Congressman Coelho," said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf. Secretary Landgraf will be on hand to welcome and introduce Congressman Coelho at the event.

Mr. Coelho has a compelling story to share both as a former lawmaker and as a beneficiary of the ADA. Upon receiving the diagnosis of epilepsy as a young man, he was barred entry into the seminary, was denied health insurance, lost his driver’s license and was estranged from his family. From there he ventured into politics, where he reached the highest levels of Congress and became a prolific advocate for all Americans with disabilities.

"Over the years of remaining active in the disabilities community, I've been fortunate in my association with various organizations that provide a range of support for disabled persons. I look forward to greeting Secretary Landgraf and sharing recent developments in support of disabled individuals especially regarding disability law and its impact on national, state and local policies with everyone who attends."

Since retiring from Congress in 1989, Mr. Coelho has served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Epilepsy Foundation. He is also a former chairman and current member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of People with Disabilities. He currently resides in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

To register for this free event, visit:

Wilmington University Speaker Series

The Wilmington University Speaker Series was established to engage, educate and enlighten students, faculty, staff and the community on important issues of current interest.

About Wilmington University

Wilmington University is a private, nonprofit university committed to offering flexible and career-oriented undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs while maintaining small class sizes, individualized attention and affordable tuition. For more information, contact Wilmington University at 302-356-INFO (4636) or toll free 877-967-5464, via email at or visit our website at

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - New Castle, DE