Chet Cooper

Photo of Chet Cooper

Chet Cooper, has been one of the country's leading advocates for employment, awareness building and housing for people with disabilities (PWDs). He saw the need to break down the myths and stereotypes associated with disabilities, focusing on three major areas that needed change; social attitude, resources, and awareness. He launched ABILITY Magazine in 1990, at the dawn of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In 1995, Cooper furthered his vision for a changing society through ABILITY Awareness. To further showcase the abilities of PWDs, Cooper convinced Miller Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, to create a partnership and develop the ABILITY House project, a universally designed home built for and by PWDs. The first home was built in 1999 in Birmingham, AL, where 250 volunteers with disabilities built a home for a Vietnam Veteran with a disability in a 7-day blitz build. Cooper rallied companies, non-profits and people like Senator Harkin, Senator Dole, Christopher and Dana Reeve to support the ABILITY House project and homes were built around the country. Cooper received the President's Community Volunteer Award presented by President George W. Bush for his work creating the ABILITY House program.

Additionally, ABILITY Magazine has partnered with organizations like Department of Labor’s Employer Assistance and Resource Network, Job Accommodation Network, Department of Veterans Affairs and others aimed to influence greater employment for individuals with disabilities.

Cooper has ADHD, is dyslexic and diagnosed with metastatic malignant melanoma; he still continues to be a leading advocate of disability issues, innovator in accessibility and proponent of equal employment.