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Central Washington University

“What Can You Do?” Keynote Speech for CWU Disability Awareness Month

ELLENSBURG, Wash. (October 15, 2012) — Washington State Human Rights Commission member Shawn Murinko, a Central Washington University alumnus and prominent legal advocate for people with disabilities, will speak at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17, in CWU’s Student Union and Recreation Center Theatre. His presentation, “What Can You Do?,” will be the keynote address for CWU’s observance of Disability Awareness Month.

“‘What Can You Do?’ will be about utilizing education to transform workplace opportunities into social equality,” says Murinko. “The national unemployment rate for people with disabilities is at 13.5 percent—nearly double what it is for people without disabilities. A truly inclusive and free society demands more opportunity than what these numbers represent and so should we.”

Currently, Murinko works to ensure transportation equality for people with disabilities throughout Washington State. He collaborates with stakeholders and legislators to draft civil rights laws and regulations. He is also responsible for the development and implementation of equal opportunity employment, affirmative action, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) policies and procedures. 

Murinko, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair himself, also serves as the chief ADA and Diversity Compliance manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation. He frequently speaks on human rights issues.

“It has been over 20 years since the passage of the ADA,” he points out, “and while the lives of people with disabilities continue to improve, far too many still live in the shadows of poverty and oppression. And for those who are fortunate enough to emerge from it, barriers to true and meaningful social equality remain.”

Murinko is also a past chair of the Washington Attorneys with Disabilities group and a former member of the the Olympian newspaper's Diversity Panel. He graduated from CWU in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In 2003, he received his law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law.

During Disability Awareness Month, CWU will also present a number of other disability awareness-related events, co-sponsored by the Center for Disability Services, Center for Diversity and Social Justice, Student Transitions and Academic Resources (STAR), and the Access, Belonging, Learning and Equity (ABLE) club.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487, loweryr@cwu.edu