John Waldo, disability rights attorney and friend, passed away in his sleep on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Tomorrow, September 20th, would have been his 78th birthday. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor this past summer.
John was proud to identify as late-deafened. He used his personal experience with hearing loss to advocate and champion the enforcement of federal and state disability laws for Deaf and Hard of hearing individuals. As a result of John’s advocacy work, many venues in our nation became more accessible including movie theaters, live theaters, sports venues, ferries, hospitals, and online education. John led early efforts to make movie theaters more accessible, trailblazing the way and creating legal precedent on offering captioning, and movie theaters in other states would follow the guidance established by this body of advocacy. His love for the cultural arts fueled his passion to ensure that live theater performances were also accessible.
John was a collaborator on many projects over the years and was involved directly and indirectly with various advocacy organizations. Most recently, John was a member of the legal team advocating for hearing aid coverage in Washington State. This brought him back full circle since Washington State was where he began his early advocacy work as a Founder and Counsel for the Washington State Communication Access Project (Wash-CAP) and as Counsel for its sister organization, the Oregon State Communication Access Project (Oregon-CAP). As a member of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association, John shared his expertise with peers and mentees and participated in collaborative efforts to increase accessibility for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals nationwide. John was an active member of the Association for Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), and chaired the Advocacy Committee He also was a recipient of ALDA’s highest honor, the I. King Jordan Award. His “Legal Update” workshops were always well attended at ALDAcon.
John was renowned among ALDA members not only for his legal prowess but also for his rendition of “Monster Mash” during the infamous ALDAcon Karaoke parties. Here is a link to the YouTube video featuring John with ALDA Co-Founder, Bill Graham: https://youtu.be/lHt3sUqy3o4
Here are a couple of photos of John on stage with others at ALDAcon Karaoke in 2022 in San Diego.
John’s passing has left a huge hole in the hearts of all of us impacted by his work, which number in the tens of millions. We will continue to carry the torch and benefit from his legacy of compassion and advocacy. You will be greatly missed, John. The ALDA family thanks you for all you have done.
John’s Celebration of Life will be as follows:
October 14, 2023
Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church
6221 Main Street,
The Celebration of Life will be live-streamed. Please check the website below for more information.
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