Victor Calise is the commissioner of New York City’s Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). He understands how difficult it can be for an “able-bodied” person to understand what it’s like living in a world that wasn’t built for your access.

When Commissioner Calise came to speak at the Center for Hearing and Communication’s (CHC) 104th annual meeting earlier this month, he shared a bit about his perspective and how it energizes his work leading MOPD. Years ago, a bicycling accident left him with a spinal cord injury. He lived the experience of being a person without disabilities, then becoming one with mobility challenges. Reflecting on and leading from this experience, his message can make you stop and think what any disability is really like day to day.

View Commissioner’s annual meeting address

CHC has a century of experience and a reputation for leadership in advocacy and promoting accessibility for people with hearing loss. Indeed, all the speakers at this year’s annual meeting chose to spotlight the extraordinary, unique dedication of CHC clinicians and volunteers. Week after week, year after year, they give so much of themselves; they work to give our clients the confidence they need to change their lives.

We think about and strive to improve upon people’s access every day. But Commissioner Calise’s message was an important reminder to include all types of disabilities as we work toward our mission. From his speech:

“It’s important for the disabled community as a whole to be a community. So when I’m advocating for deaf and hard of hearing issues, people who are deaf and hard of hearing should be fighting for blind issues, and people who are blind should be fighting for people with mobility issues. Because there are 800,000 people with disabilities in New York City with disabilities, and if we’re strong and all fight for the rights of others we’re able to give back.”


Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in NYC, speaks at CHC’s 104th annual meeting.