Luke Visconti Who Suffered a Stroke Works on Behalf on People with Disabilities

Mar 6, 2019

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National Organization on Disability Board Vice Chair and Palm Beach resident Luke Visconti speaks in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. By Olivia Feldman | Posted Mar 5, 2019 at 4:46 PM

One in five people in the U.S. have disabilities, making up 54 million people in the U.S. Palm Beach resident Luke Visconti advocates for this group as vice chair of the National Organization on Disability (NOD), which aims to help people with disabilities find employment.

In 1997, Visconti founded the online publication DiversityInc., which focuses on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. His life took a turn after suffering a stroke four years ago at the age of 54, leading him to gear his efforts toward working with NOD. On behalf of the organization, he took part in a meeting last week in Washington, D.C. with 12 national disability organizations and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) to advocate for increased employment for people with disabilities.

Visconti recently spoke to the Daily News about his work with the NOD and how he has progressed since his stroke.

How long have you lived in Palm Beach?

I moved here full-time last year but had been wintering here for the past four years while living in Princeton, New Jersey.

How did you get involved with the National Organization on Disability?

I’ve known (NOD President) Carol Glazer for well over a decade. After my stroke, she got out to me quickly. NOD has been able to put all of these groups together so we can advocate for our collective best interests. Our mission is to get people to work.

What are your responsibilities as vice chair of the NOD board?

The board keeps strategic direction. We discuss initiatives and opportunities that will help people get employment, and that’s what we spend the most time on. We evaluate Carol Glazer’s performance on a regular basis.

How did your stroke happen?

I was at home in Princeton, New Jersey. I woke up having trouble walking; I felt strange. At first I brushed it off, but then I woke up my wife. I made two big mistakes: I didn’t call 911 and I had her drive me to the hospital, which was the wrong one. They misdiagnosed me and I didn’t get a tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). There was no neurologist or cardiologist on staff. Instead of sending me away, they took my insurance money and left me there. If I had been treated properly, I wouldn’t be paralyzed.

How do you function since your stroke?

I was paralyzed on my left side, and I still do rehab every day to get myself basically functional. We moved here because the cold stiffens up my affected side. I can walk, but it’s not pleasant; I have to focus on every step. I am effectively one-handed. I really would like my left hand and left arm back, it just takes work. I do Pilates once or twice a week at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.

What should readers know about people with disabilities?

People with disabilities deserve the ability to go to work. They have plenty to contribute. From a pragmatic point of view, you get the best people when you select from the widest possible pool. We can increase the country’s GDP by having people work to the best of their ability.

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