Disability & Mental Health Summit & Book Release, Legislation Updates
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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. 

Come visit us at the annual Disability & Mental Health Summit on Tuesday!




Photo: A gold star with a blue banner in front of it, event title displayed on the right. Text reads: We Count:  Disability & Mental Health Summit - Celebrating ADA 30th Anniversary. Hosted by Representative Dan Miller.

Join attendees, exhibitors, and presenters of the Western Pennsylvania region for a full day at the Disability & Mental Health Summit in Pittsburgh on March 3, 2020! The Summit will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center from 8:30am to 8:00pm and is hosted by Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Miller of the 42nd District in Allegheny County. 
The event will include workshop sessions on the ADA, mental health advocacy and treatment, education, employment, health care, and more. The summit will also feature an extensive resource hall with exhibitors from throughout the region. Members of the Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium will be at a table throughout the day and are available to share information about the Consortium’s ongoing efforts in Western Pennsylvania. Summit attendees are encouraged to stop by! The Consortium will also present a talk entitled “How History Informs the Present about Housing Options for People with Disabilities.”
The event kicks off with a Governor Wolf Administration update on Mental Health and Disabilities initiatives by Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller and Office of Developmental Programs Deputy Secretary Kristen Ahrens.
Elected leaders will speak about state policies on disability and mental health from 1:30pm to 3:20pm on a legislative panel moderated by Representative Dan Miller. Mary Hartley and Guy Caruso of the Consortium will speak on the history of housing options for people with disabilities and current best practices from 7 to 8pm. 
Registration is free, though those who plan to attend workshops will need to register. (The keynote session, presented by Tony Coehlo, former U.S. Representative and author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, does not require registration to attend.) ASL interpretation will be provided for both the keynote session and the legislative panel; continuing education credits are available. 
You can read more about the Summit in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Other news items:


Disability rights activist publishes memoir



Photo: A black-and-white photo of woman seated in a wheelchair. She looks at her reflection in a mirror with a thoughtful look on her face. She is wearing glasses and a collared dress. Text reads: Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. Judith Heumann with Kristen Joiner.

Disability rights activist Judy Heumann’s memoir, titled 'Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist', was released on February 25, 2020. Heumann has presented a speech about her lifetime of advocacy for the Thornburgh Family Lecture on Disability Law and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh in February 2006. 'Being Heumann' is available for preorder at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.


Black History Month news from Disability Rights Pennsylvania:


In our 30th anniversary celebrations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is important to understand how African Americans’ civil rights activism influenced and intersected with the modern disability advocacy we see today.
We must not merely think of Olmstead, but Lois Curtis. We cannot recall the [Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act] sit-ins without remembering Joyce Jackson. Our histories, African American and Disability, are uniquely intertwined and we, in the disability rights space, owe it to both communities to honor that history holistically.


You can read more in the Disability Rights Pennsylvania newsletter.



Update on planned closing of Polk and White Haven state centers

Senate Bill 906 – aimed at placing a moratorium on the closure of two state centers in Pennsylvania – was vetoed on February 12, 2020, by Governor Tom Wolf. Read the Governor’s official statement here. The Consortium has been following discussions and developments around the closures. Be sure to like our Facebook page and stay up to date.


Senator Bob Casey introduces accessibility legislation

In advance of the 2020 election, Senator Bob Casey has introduced the Accessible Voting Act of 2020. According to the 90.5 WESA NPR news station, the act “would amend a 2002 law to increase accessibility for older voters, voters with disabilities, Native Americans and voters with limited proficiency in English.”

Bridget Malley is the Preservation Scholar for WPDHAC and is a steering committee member with the Society of American Archivists’ Accessibility and Disability Section. She is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s MLIS program.

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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