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Norman family. Taking his place as guide dog is Pilot, a Labrador and golden retriever mix. “T ey have much diff erent person-

alities,” Norman says. “Langer was good for me as a bachelor, but Pilot is more socially oriented, runs a little faster, and is more exuberant.” Norman’s love for his dogs has

led him to become an advocate for the rights of guide dogs and other service animals. “I try to advocate for guide dogs

to give back the service I receive,” he says. “T ere are positives and negatives to having a guide dog,” he explains. Access denial, such as being refused lodgings at a hotel, is one of the negatives. Among the positives he lists having an opportunity to experi- ence the goodwill of strangers, like when people he doesn’t know open doors for him or give him directions. “Having a guide dog makes me less visually impaired,” he says. Norman established the fi rst-

ever pilot ambulance service for guide dogs with the Baltimore County Fire Department, and the Maryland Fund for emergency assis- tance for the care of guide dogs.

He also has authored entries in reference works, given presentations, and been involved in formulating laws and public policy on the issue. Last year he founded the Mid-Atlantic Regional Animal Symposium. “T e purpose was to bring intel-

lectuals together to talk about animal law and to improve the understanding of it,” he says. “It’s an emerging fi eld.” Norman has had papers published

in several legal journals on topics that include disability rights, animal rights, and the Paralympics. “I want to write a book to incorpo-

rate how my own disability impacts others and how I have integrated it into society,” he says. “To be disabled has challenges and barriers that need to be removed.” In a scholarly paper he wrote for

Health, Law and Policy, the journal of American University’s Washington College of Law, Norman argued that medical recommendations to abort a pregnancy because of the probable birth of a disabled child are a refl ec- tion of the negativity and prejudice that disabled persons endure today. Norman’s involvement in civic

Norman’s guide dog


activities belies any assumptions that he lacks capacity. “Every person should be as independent as pos- sible, and do as much as possible by themselves,” he says. His deep commitment to

and involvement in disability issues are an example of the valu- able contributions people with disabilities can make to society. He is currently vice president of the board of directors for the American Visually Impaired Attorneys Association; legal counsel to the board of Northern Baltimore County Jaycees; vice president and secretary of Senior Mediation and Decision- Making; and former CEO and past president of the Maryland Area Guide Dog Users. Last year, he was appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to be one of the nine commissioners


on the Maryland Human Relations Commission. In that position, he considers and investigates civil rights complaints and determines their legali- ties. Someday, he hopes to enter politics. “My intent is to open a private

practice and run for public offi ce. I had envisioned running for offi ce in Ohio, but will do so wherever the fates lead me,” he says. Wherever that might be and what-

ever position he holds, Norman says he will continue to work on making the body of law on rights and disabili- ties enforced and understood. “I have had a good life, but not an

easy life,” he says. “I see myself both as blessed and disadvantaged. Some people will view me with lower expecta- tions, and there is the personal discrimi- nation and the access denial because of my guide dog. I want to make things better for those who come behind me. In doing so, I also honor my mom and my dad, who instilled in me a dedica- tion to community service.” In recent years, Norman has

received numerous honors for his continuing contributions to others, among them: the Edward F. Shea, Jr. Award for Professionalism given by the Maryland State Bar Foundation; the American Marshall Memorial Fellow, a one-month sojourn in Europe awarded to distinguished scholars under 40 to promote bet- ter understanding of European aff airs; the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from his alma mater, Wright State University; and selection by the Jaycees as one of their “Ten Most Outstanding Young Americans” of 2009. He has also become a sought-after public speaker. Despite this recognition, his dog Pilot is not impressed. “I usually have his leash in my hand

when I speak,” Norman says. “but Pilot usually falls asleep and sometimes can be heard snoring.” D&B

Tom Calarco is a freelance writer based in Altamonte Springs, Fla.



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