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Jacob Hackett discusses accessibility advocacy at Atlantic Cape

03/04/2022 | Media Contact: Claire Sylvester | (609) 343-4933
Accessibility advocate Jacob Hackett speaks to the Community for the Differently Abled student club Feb. 24, 2022 at the Mays Landing campus.

Once Jacob Hackett began to advocate for himself, there was no turning back. The accessibility advocate from Absecon, now 21, has been a voice for the disabled locally and regionally since he was in eighth grade.

“We need much younger advocates, not only in this state, but in this country, because the job is not being done,” Hackett said. “Speak up. There are plenty of people who can help you.”

On Thursday, Feb. 24, Hackett was the first presenter at the inaugural Accessibility Advocate Series hosted by Atlantic Cape Community College’s Community for the Differently Abled club.

“It’s time for someone like me to step up to the plate because it has to be done,” Hackett told the nearly 60 attendees at the event held both in-person and virtually.

Hackett said that there needs to be more considerations for accessibility accommodations, like wider bathrooms for wheelchairs, railings on staircases, ramps and elevators in existing buildings, and other modifications, even in historic structures.

Hackett is a 2017 recipient of the Donald J. Sykes Award, which recognizes individuals with disabilities for their positive attitudes, personal accomplishments, and success in enriching the lives of others. He also advocates for those with disabilities through the Boggs Center at Rutgers University, works a DJ on WIBG radio, and is involved with the South Jersey Field of Dreams, among his many commitments.

“He is a living example of what can happen and can be done regardless of your circumstances,” said John Glassey of the South Jersey Field of Dreams.

The discussion included a question and answer portion moderated by CDA club advisors Jesse Kurtz and Juliana Torres, where Hackett discussed his advocacy work with Rutgers’ The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities.

“If we can help someone at the end of the day, I feel as though I’ve done my job,” Hackett said.

He also shared advice for students who have disabilities and their parents: “If you feel your voice is not being heard, go to your IEP meetings, go to your ISP meetings,” Hackett said. “If a child or a student can advocate for themselves, let them speak up.”

Atlantic Cape Community College’s Community for the Differently Abled is a new student club formed this year which works to promote accessibility on the college campus.

“It was a great experience. Jacob was helpful and did a good job answering everyone's questions,” said Jonathan Teter, vice president of the Community for the Differently Abled club.

“Jacob is a great model for advocacy and awareness, and I believe the students really benefited from the event,” Torres added.

John Glassey of the South Jersey Field of Dreams

Advisor Juliana Torres speaks to the crowd in attendance for Community for the Differently Abled club's accessibility advocacy speaker series.

Jacob Hackett speaks at the accessibility advocacy event Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 at Atlantic Cape's Mays Landing campus.