Join Pennsylvanians across the state for a WPDHAC special event, part of Disability Pride Virtual PA's celebration of the ADA thirtieth anniversary!
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Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium

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Our website offers a collection of resources about disability rights history. 

Living Beyond Institutions:

Virtual disability history event to celebrate 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 2020 

Disability Pride Virtual PA logo
Pennsylvania State symbol in bright green with a front facing strong fist in white with a circle surrounding it. Words in alternate colors of white and royal blue say Disability Pride Virtual PA, Celebrating 30th Anniversary of the ADA.

Wednesday, July 22, 4:30-6:00pm
Learning from our History: Living Beyond the Walls of the Institution

Join the Western Pennsylvania Disability History Consortium, Temple University Institute on Disabilities, and Pennhurst Memoral and Preservation Alliance for a facilitated virtual discussion of the obstacles to living beyond the walls of institutionalized settings, current issues in community-based services, and what the future might hold. Invited participants include:

Brenda Dare, self-advocate, Independent Living Project Manager for Transitional Paths to Independent Living;
Jamie Ray-Leonetti, Associate Director of Policy, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University;
Debbie Robinson, Executive Director, Speaking for Ourselves;
Nancy Thaler, former Deputy Secretary for the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs. 

Before the discussion, view one or more of the videos that will help frame the discussion:

From Wrongs to Rights (2013 / 8 minutes) tells the story of early 1970s activism in Western Pennsylvania that exposed the use of cages at Polk institution and led to the firing of the superintendent. The activism created momentum for the de-institutionalization movement. 

i go home (2016 / 56 minutes) recounts the history of barring children with intellectual disability from public schools and advising parents to send them to institutions. A late-1960s Philadelphia television news expose' shed light on deplorable conditions inside the walls of Pennhurst institution and motivated the public to demand change. 

Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization (2015 / 57 min.) explores the principle of “normalization”—a revolutionary idea in human services in the 1970s that challenged long-held assumptions about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and became the framework for human services. The historic shift in thinking was made popular by iconoclastic professor Wolf Wolfensberger. (Password for video: wolfdoc)

This event is offered in conjunction with Disability Pride Virtual PA, a 30-day statewide celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and ADA30 Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

To pre-register for this event or to join the event in progress, visit the Disability Pride Virtual PA website. Captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided.
For information:
ADA 30 logo in red and blue featuring symbols representing people with disabilities. Text reads: 'ADA for Allegheny County and Pittsburgh - ADA30 Americans with Disabilities Act 1990-2020: Thirty Years Strong.'

The thirtieth anniversary of the historic signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act is coming up on July 26! You can learn about the act’s passage and local accessibility efforts on the Fisa Foundation website

Have you taken our survey?


If you haven't taken our survey yet, please do. The Consortium serves as a clearinghouse for records and artifacts that tell the story of disability rights history and activism in Western Pennsylvania. 

If you know of such items or information, we'd like to add them to the listings on our website. If you need help preserving them, we can help with that too. 

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