Mullica Woman with Muscular Dystrophy teaches disability rights

Source: Press of Atlantic City
Muscular dystrophy has restricted Lydia Fecteau’s physical movements, but not her intellect or career.
Fecteau, 44, an adjunct professor at Richard Stockton College, (soon to become Stockton University) teaches a broad range of classes, including disability studies.
She uses a motorized wheelchair and gets help from her service dog, who acts as Fecteau’s arms and legs, she said.
“She opens doors, pushes buttons on elevators, and picks things up,” Fecteau said.
Disabled since birth, Fecteau is acutely aware of the importance of the Americans with Diabilities Act, which turns 25 next year. The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability, requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and requires public accommodations to be accessible.
“It is one of the great compromises in legislation,” Fecteau said, an example of how the two political parties can work together.
The bill’s primary sponsor was Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, whose brother is deaf. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., who has limited use of his right arm because of injuries suffered during World War II, was a co-sponsor who lobbied heavily for it. It was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush
In November, Fecteau screened and led a discussion of the 2011 documentary film Lives Worth Living, which is a history of the disability rights movement, as part of the Hammonton Green Committee’s Eye Opening film and lecture series. “It has beautiful interviews with people instrumental in putting (the ADA) together,” Fecteau said. “At one point when it didn’t look like it would go through, a large group of disabled got out of their wheelchairs and crawled up the Capitol steps. It shows part of history people don’t really know that much about.”
Fecteau grew up in Mullica Township and still lives there with her dad, who helps with her care. She attended township schools and Pilgrim Academy in Galloway Township for high school, graduating in 1988. She graduated from Stockton in 1992 and got a Master’s degree in English from Rutgers in 1996. At both Stockton and Rutgers universities, she helped put together programs to increase access for disabled students…
Fecteau is also an adjunct professor of English at Atlantic Cape Community College, is an Adjunct Representative to the Faculty Senate at Stockton, and is chair of the Advisory Council for the New Jersey Personal Assistance Services Program.

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