Ralph Glathar will begin his three-year tenure in August in a bittersweet post to help those with disabilities.Glathar
was married for 17 years to his
wife Eileen, who died in June 2006.Eileen was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980, and was a member of the state Rehabilitation Council for years before her death.
wife became unable to drive herself to the meetings, Glathar
began taking off work once a month to take her
death, the council awarded Eileen posthumously for her
work, and after accepting the award in her
behalf, Council members asked Glathar
to apply for an open position on the board.
Comprised of consumers, professionals, parent advocates, and service providers, the council oversees the state Office of Rehabilitation vocational rehabilitation program
.The council is legally appointed by the Utah State Board of Education
and works to improve state services.Glathar
was chosen to act as a consumer advocate.
"We work for those of all ages and with all disabilities," he
abilities and also the obstacles she
had to overcome.Watching her
struggles and successes added to his
passion to help people with disabilities.In addition, he
has a niece and two nephews with disabilities -- two with Down Syndrome and one with physical and mental disabilities.
"For years I have cursed people I see park in disabled parking and then run into a store," he
said."My interest grew as I was involved with Eileen and we were married."He
said it is important to think of things from other people's perspective.
"All you have to do is put yourself in their position," he
said."How would you feel if you were hurt in an automobile accident and had to be in a wheelchair or if you applied for a job and they told you 'No, we can't use anybody in a wheelchair.' They wouldn't even give you a chance or even give you an application."
The same considerations apply when someone with a mental disability is not given a chance to get a job they want, he
"That is my passion about people with disabilities," he
said.Glathar is also a certified access consultant for the Americans with Disabilities Act and has been trained to help those who fight for access, and also monitor ADA access on new buildings in American Fork.Glathar
gets involved a few times each year in projects around the city, letting the city and developers know about violations, including the slant of ADA ramps, the size of doors and difficulty in getting doors open, among other issues.He
became interested in ADA access after listening to a lecture and volunteered to be trained for certification, he
"I feel this is a great opportunity to coordinate and combine work from both areas," he
There are many types of disabilities, and all people need to have the same access to businesses and public buildings that the general public enjoys, he
"A mother who cannot push a stroller between racks in a store or a person who has a broken leg has a disability," he