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Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium

Western Pennsylvania Disability History & Action Consortium

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

Rory Cooper, Rebecca Grier, Aaron Steinfeld lead Oct. 8 “futures” panel on accessible transportation 


Thursday, October 8, 2020, 6:00 - 7:30 pm
From Exclusion to Autonomy: The History and Future of Accessible Transportation in Western Pennsylvania

Register online for this event

Black and white photograph of accessibility advocates Holly and Paul Dick in front of their Chrysler Newport, which was adapted for Paul’s use in 1966.  (From the Holly and Paul Dick Family Papers and Photographs, MSS 1177, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.
Transportation advocates Holly and Paul Dick in front of their Chrysler Newport, which was adapted for Paul’s use in 1966
There’s still time to register for the virtual program "From Exclusion to Autonomy: The History and Future of Accessible Transportation in Western Pennsylvania."

The Heinz History Center and the Western Pennsylvania Disability History Consortium invite you to join us via Zoom on Thursday, October 8, from 6 to 7:30 P.M. as we celebrate 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Following an introduction by John Tague, long-time advocate for people with disabilities, panelists representing multiple eras of transit advocacy will reflect on the unique innovations in accessible transportation that were forged in Pittsburgh.

Nationally recognized researchers and scholars will then discuss current and future challenges and opportunities in accessible self-driving car development and the larger quest for autonomy in transportation and mobility. 

Panelists include:  
  • Rory A. Cooper, Ph.D., FISA Foundation & Paralyzed Veterans of America Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh; Founder-Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at VA Rehabilitation R&D Center; adjunct professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University; and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
  • Holly Dick, former ACCESS Community Liaison and noted disability advocate
  • Rebecca A. Grier, Ph.D., UX (user experience) researcher and chair of the SAE Taskforce on Identifying ADS-DV (Autonomous Driving System – Dedicated Vehicle) User Issues for Persons with Disabilities
  • Karen Hoesch, Executive Director of ACCESS Transportation Systems
  • Paul W. O'Hanlon, former disability rights lawyer and Senior Housing Attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services Association in Pittsburgh
  • Aaron Steinfeld, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor at The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
Visit this link for more information and to register for the event.

If you would like the Consortium to assist with your registration, or to request accommodations, please contact us at or 412.204.7199.  We hope you will join us!

In Memory of Linda Dickerson

Photograph of Linda Dickerson
In Memoriam, Linda Dickerson (Jan. 12, 1961 — Sept. 26, 2020)
(Photograph source: Pittsburgh Tribune Review)

The Consortium is saddened at the passing of Linda Dickerson, disability rights advocate, and benefactor to many non-profits and businesses conducting research and fundraising for disability rights, issues, and policy.

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University, Dickerson served on many civic boards and committees and worked tirelessly for the community. She was recognized by the Three Rivers Community Foundation for these many efforts with the creation of the Linda A. Dickerson Fund for Disability Rights in 2015. You can find a full obituary listing Dickerson’s many accomplishments in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dickerson’s guidance has been felt by many and her influence will remain in the works that continue through the organizations she championed and advised. She will be greatly missed.

Have you taken our survey?

Please take our survey about disability history if you haven't already done so. 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. 

Contact us at

Your contribution in any amount helps to make our work possible!

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