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Richard Pimentel: Wikis


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Richard Pimentel is an expert on disability employment issues and is credited with championed the Americans with Disabilities Act, into becoming law.[1] He is currently a Senior Partner of Milt Wright & Associates, Inc. His story was made famous by the movie Music Within.



Richard Pimentel was pronounced dead at birth in the delivery room. His mother, who had experienced three miscarriages before his birth, left him in an orphanage. After his father's death, he was raised by his impoverished grandmother and deemed "retarded" by a school guidance counselor. He never spoke a word until age six.[2] After his mother abandoned him again for a new boyfriend, Richard was left homeless and roamed from friend’s homes to his father’s old workplace, a strip bar. He lived and slept in the dressing room. During these hard times, he managed to win two national high school speech championships and was offered a college scholarship by College Bowl founder, Dr. Ben Padrow. Richard arrived on campus only to hear Dr. Padrow tell him to come back when he had "something to say." [2]

Richard followed Dr. Padrow's advice and quit school. Soon after he was drafted to Vietnam, where he survived a volunteer suicide mission.[citation needed] During his brief celebration, a stray bomb exploded in his bunker and ravaged his hearing. Not only did Richard lose his hearing, he developed tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears. The government dismissed his dreams of college and public speaking, insisting his fate was one of insanity and rage due to his condition. [2]

Richard returned to college where he met Art Honeyman, who had a severe case of cerebral palsy. No one could understand Art due to his wheezing, garbled speech—-except for Richard, who could hear Art’s true voice due to his hearing loss. [2]

At 3 AM, in celebration of Art’s birthday, Art and Richard sat down in a local restaurant for a pancake breakfast. Their waitress threatened to call the police, deeming him the "ugliest, most disgusting thing" she had ever seen. They refused to leave and were arrested under the "Ugly Law," a statute that prohibited public appearances of people who were "unsightly." This injustice propelled Richard, with the help of Dr. Padrow and a host of friends, into the nascent disability movement. [2]

He now is Senior Partner of Milt Wright & Associates, Inc.

Timeline of Work in Disability Employment and the ADA

  • 1977: Began the journey of conducting diversity-based disability attitude training in Portland, Oregon.[3]
  • 1981: Primary author of Tilting at Windmills (Windmills), an interactive disability attitude training program designed for managers and supervisors to become more objective and effectively interview and work with people with disabilities.[3]
  • 1981: Began conducting Windmills training for US Government organizations and Fortune 500 companies. Employers trained on the Windmills training program have hired and promoted thousands of individuals with disabilities.[3]
  • 1983: Created the first training program on Developing Jobs for Persons with Disabilities.[3]
  • 1984: Trained the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) staff on Windmills. Recognized as an inspirational spokesperson on disability awareness and sensitivity training.[3]
  • 1987: A pioneer in the development of a disability management return-to-work model for injured and recently disabled employees that is being used throughout the nation today by major corporations and government entities.[3]
  • 1988: Co-authored PERSPECTIVES, AIDS in the Workplace, an attitudinal training program (the first of its kind) as requested by the President’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities, the EEOC, and the National Institute of Health (NIH) which helped reduce congressional resistance to HIV being covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).[3]
    • PERSPECTIVES, was introduced at the President’s Committee 1988 Annual Conference.[3]
    • PERSPECTIVES was adopted by many Federal Government agencies (including the US Army) and Fortune 500 companies as a crucial first step to bringing calm and reason to a volatile disability employment issue.[3]
  • 1990: The ADA was signed into Law and Richard Pimentel was acknowledged by the EEOC Chair as a significant contributor to educating employers on disability employment issues.[3]
  • 1990: Consulted with the EEOC on the workers compensation implications of the ADA and coauthored the ADA Workers Compensation Connection.[3]
  • 1992: Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the largest international HR group in the world, chose Richard Pimentel to co-train employer members throughout the US on the implementation of the ADA. The course was entitled “Making the ADA Work for You”. He authored and co-authored many books on the employment aspects of the ADA including[3]:
    • The SHRM Guide Making the ADA Work for You, a guide that the EEOC recommended to employers in addition to the official ADA Regulations and Technical Assistance Guide.
    • The SHRM Guide What Managers and Supervisors Need to Know About the ADA, SHRM’s best selling employers guide to the ADA.
  • 1997: A trainer and co-training material developer of the Marriott Bridges program which has placed over 10,000 young people with disabilities into employment. Richard Pimentel continues to actively work with young people with disabilities all over the nation to help increase self esteem and assertiveness.[3]
  • 2001: Author of Working with People with Disabilities in a Job Placement/Job Retention Environment.[3]
  • 2007: Currently in the development stages of a new employer training program to support the transition of wounded and disabled veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan into the workforce. The focus is on post traumatic stress syndrome, traumatic brain injuries and amputations.[3]
  • 2008 June 14, 2008 – Richard was presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities by Portland State University. He was the commencement Keynote Speaker to 23,000 people.[3]


Richard Pimentel has authored the following[4]:

  • Developing the New Employee: Retaining and Enhancing a Diverse Workforce
  • The Taking Control Process: Beyond Light Duty
  • The Workers' Compensation ADA Connection
  • The Return to Work Process: A Case Management Approach
  • Return to Work for People with Stress and Mental Illness


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  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q
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