Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views, Issue no. 7 March-April 2001

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Wheelchair User Elected to U.S. Congress

By Kay Schriner (kays@uark.edu)

Jim Langevin, a new Congressman from the state of Rhode Island, uses a wheelchair.

Langevin, who was 16 years old when he was accidentally shot by a police officer while participating in a cadet training program with the Warwick (R.I.) Police Department, has a long history of public service. Langevin first served in the Rhode Island legislature.

More recently, Langevin served a five-year term as Rhode Island's secretary of state - the youngest person ever elected to that office. Langevin quickly established his reputation as a hard-nosed reformer. One of his major accomplishments was to push for reforms to make state government more open. His report entitled "Access Denied" got much attention for criticizing the state legislature for retaining rules of procedure that made it difficult for the public to keep track of what the legislature was doing. Legislators were forced to fund a center that would inform the public about government affairs.

In disability circles, Langevin is known for his commitment to making Rhode Island elections accessible for people with disabilities. The state has implemented an electronic voting system to ensure that everyone can participate in the electoral process.

Only 36 years old, Langevin won his race for Congress with 62 percent of the vote. According to an interview published by WeMedia, Langevin will focus on health care and prescription drug coverage for Medicare recipients, education, gun control, campaign finance reform, improving implementation of the ADA, and increasing opportunities for disabled people.

For more information, check out Congressman Langevin's interview with WeMedia at www.wemedia.com.

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