Media Advisory and Photo Opportunity


Empowerment Center’s Oryx Cohen Will Present Tuesday on ‘New Perceptions’

WHAT:  Celebrating the 26th Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act, the Institute for Human Centered Design and affiliate New England ADA Center will hold an ice cream event for the public and media with a presentation from a leading thinker on mental health from the National Empowerment Center: “New Perceptions on Mental Health.”

WHEN:  2 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016

WHERE:  Institute for Human Centered Design, 200 Portland St., Boston, MA 02114, near North Station

WHO: Oryx Cohen, Chief Operating Officer of the National Empowerment Center and Co-producer of “Healing Voices,” a new documentary film about mental health, the ways in which mental health issues are addressed, and promising alternatives.


Mental health issues are receiving more attention today than ever before. Perhaps not since the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts championed the cause has there been as much discussion of this serious, complex, and widely misunderstood health issue. Kennedy helped craft the Americans with Disabilities Act, a detailed civil rights law, and the National Network of ADA Centers was established to explain the law to the public.

Today, with thousands of people newly in recovery due to the opioid epidemic, many are unaware of their civil rights under the ADA. IHCD, which serves as the regional ADA Center, considers the timing right to highlight the protections of the ADA and has invited Cohen to lead a discussion.

In April, leading up to National Mental Health Month in May, the 90-minute documentary “Healing Voices” was released, with the subtitle: “Let’s Change the Conversation”.

A Digital Eyes Film production, “Healing Voices” was co-produced by Cohen, Chief Operating Officer of the Empowerment Center, who will discuss the film and “New Perceptions on Mental Health” at the Institute for Human Centered Design in Boston on Tuesday. The film was directed by P.J. Moynihan.

On Tuesday, Cohen will acknowledge on its 26th Anniversary the significance of the ADA, which he has said “was strongly shaped around meeting the needs of persons with physical, sensory and developmental disabilities.” People with mental health disabilities are specifically included in the law, and people with mental health issues should understand the promise of the ADA.

However, Cohen says, “The law and associated rulings have many flaws when it comes to more unpredictable, episodic mental health challenges, which are often profoundly stigmatized.”

Cohen will discuss current efforts at mental health reform in various levels of government, including the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, which was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 6, 2016, and Senate Bill S2680, the Mental Health Reform Act.

NOTE: The New England ADA Center is a sponsor of a screening of “Healing Voices” to be shown free to the public at the Kendall Square Cinema on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, at 6:30 p.m., presented by the Disability Law Center and Digital Eyes Film. The Kendall Square Cinema is at 355 Binney St. in Cambridge, MA 02135. RSVP is required by Aug. 14 at . Or call 617.723.8455, ext. 123. For more information, please go to .


Cohen is a leader in the international mental health consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x) movement.  Prior to joining NEC, he was co-director of the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community.  He is also the co-founder of Freedom Center, the Pioneer Valley’s only independent peer-run support/activist organization.  Freedom Center’s purpose is to empower and support people with psychiatric labels while challenging oppressive mental health policies and practices. 



The National Empowerment Center is a nonprofit organization with a message of recovery, empowerment, hope and healing to people with lived experience with mental health issues, trauma, and/or extreme states. The National Empowerment Network is a member of the Coalition for Mental Health Reform. The Coalition is made up of disability, civil, and human rights organizations working with people with psychiatric disabilities for the improvement of legislative outcomes for mental health reform. It is a consumer/survivor/ex-patient-run organization. For more information, please go to .



The New England Center provides information, guidance and training to individuals, businesses and government at the local, state and regional level on how to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order to support the mission of the ADA to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities. For questions about ADA, please call 800-949-4232 or go  to .



The Institute for Human Centered Design meets its mission through an unusual mix of education, technical assistance and inter-disciplinary consulting and design services. Each activity informs the others for a dynamic interplay of expertise, learning and exploration.  IHCD professionals are deep-content experts in both accessibility and universal/inclusive design.  IHCD looks at accessibility as a floor or baseline for designing for people across the broadest spectrum of ability and age. IHCD is invested in the international universal design/design-for-all/inclusive design movement but believes that it is important to be open to complementary ideas that make sense within the simple and open framework of human-centered design. Important parallel trends today include green design and design for health and healing. IHCD embraces Universal Design, a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. For more information, please go to

For more information, please contact:

Stacy Hart, New England ADA Center



Tom Palmer, Tom Palmer Communication

Mobil: 617.755.7250,