This year, Dr. Batavia co-authored and published the book Wisdom from a Chair, a memoir of his late brother Andrew I. Batavia, a prominent disability activist, who at the age of 16, sustained a C2-3 Spinal Cord injury following a car crash. Andrew subsequently underwent rehabilitation at Rusk, attended Harvard Law School, and studied health services research at Stanford Medical School.
Later, as a White House Fellow under the George H.W. Bush administration, he became the top pick at the US Justice Department to write regulations for the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (Title III, which focused on public accommodations). He then advo- cated for the civil rights of persons with disabilities who were terminally ill, arguing for their right to physician assisted dying in amicus briefs at the Supreme Court. He was a pioneer in these early efforts, an issue that was, (and still is) a contentious one within the disability community. Later Andrew became a university professor at FIU and a prolific writer.
Dr. Batavia and his family discovered Andrew’s unfinished memoirs in 2015, twelve years after his death, during the ADA’s 25th anniversary year. Dr. Batavia then spent the next 12 months completing the final 10 chapters of Andrew’s life while adding commen- tary to earlier chapters from the perspective of a family member and physical therapist. He believes completing the memoir is not only important historically, but also illuminating from a patient point of view. Persons with a spinal cord injury or other severe disability may benefit from Andrew’s “wisdom” after reading his amazing life journey.
With forewords by Senator John McCain of Arizona and former US Attorney General and Governor of Pennsylvania, Dick Thornburgh, the contribution of Andrew’s work is palpable. Dr. Batavia says it’s the story of a Don Quixote, a civil rights hero for the often under-represented disability community.