Consortium Established to Focus on Disability History of Western Pennsylvania

The Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium has been established to preserve and honor the struggle of Western Pennsylvanians with disabilities to attain human and civil rights.

Founding members of the consortium include the Senator John Heinz History Center, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, ACHIEVA, Tri-county Patriots for Independent Living in Washington County, Polk Center in Venango County, Community Living and Support Services, National Alliance on Mental Illness – Southwestern Pennsylvania, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, and the Pennsylvania History Coalition Honoring People with Disability.

Western Pennsylvania is home to a significant amount of disability history. The region has a strong record of grassroots advocacy to ensure public education, transportation and other services, and to end the segregation of people with disabilities in the region’s state-run institutions. While most of those institutions are now closed, one of them – Polk State School and Hospital in Venango County – remains one of the most intact campuses of its kind in the nation and still operates with about 200 residents.

The Consortium is comprised of individuals and organizations committed to raising awareness of disability rights history and educating the public through research, preservation and outreach activities. The Consortium will engage in projects such as exhibits, forums that promote community dialogue, and curricula for schools.

One of its initial projects will be an inventory of the collections, documents, artifacts, and oral histories that exist in western Pennsylvania and the establishment of a searchable resource for educators, museum professionals, scholars, and the public. Any individual or organization with an interest in joining the Consortium or providing information for its work is invited to contact John L. Tague, Jr., project director, at 412-952-5402 or [email protected]

The Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council has openings and is encouraging people in all categories of representation to apply. They currently have openings for a young adult and someone to represent Cognitive Disabilities.

If you are interested or know of someone who is interested in becoming a member of the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council, visit and fill out an appointment form.

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