David Sagi was credited with helping the city win an award for disability access.
Now his name is on one.
The state is taking nominees for the David Sagi Accessibility Spirit of the ADA Award, which will honor “an employer who makes a special effort to make the business accessible to employees with disabilities.” It is the first year the state has given an award named for Sagi, who died earlier this year. Sagi, who also served on and as president of the Board of Aldermen, ran the regional office of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation before going on to become the state coordinator for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“David’s approach to advocating for accessibility was practical, non-confrontational and cooperative,” said Donna Curtin, chairwoman of the Governor’s Commission on Employment of People with Disabilities, which oversees the award process. “He encouraged and convinced many that accessibility for all benefits all.”
Sagi used a wheelchair for most of his adult life having suffered a paralyzing accident in 1971. He was involved in the creation of the CAIR Committee, which advises city government on issues of access for disabled people around the city. Then-Mayor Jeffrey Wennberg credited Sagi’s work with Rutland being the first municipality nominated — and to win — a state award for employers regarding access issues.
He died on Disability Awareness Day.
“A lot of us were together at the State House when we heard of his passing,” Curtin said.
Curtin said that while the award named after Sagi is technically new, it is the latest in a series honoring employers for their efforts in accommodating people with disabilities. She said the state has steadily expanded the awards and nomination process through the years, handing out 13 to employers last year.
“We make an effort to look at a different range of situations for employers — small employers, big employers,” she said. “We gave T.J. Maxx a group award because they have three locations shown to go above and beyond.”
Curtin said they will collect nominations through the end of July, choose winners in August and present awards in October.
“We really sort of have our fingers crossed it’ll be somewhere in Rutland, because wouldn’t that be appropriate,” she said.