University of Pittsburgh
June 3, 2009

Pitt Conference to Explore Transatlantic Perspectives on Accessibility

The conference is held within the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-A by-invitation-only policy conference hosted by the University of Pittsburgh will explore transatlantic perspectives in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) June 12-13 in the Thornburgh Room of Pitt's Hillman Library, 3960 Forbes Ave., Oakland. The conference, which will begin at 8 a.m. Friday, June 12, and continue until 3 p.m. Saturday, June 13, will explore the convention's emphasis on accessibility from a human rights perspective.

In addition to Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, Pitt alumnus and emeritus trustee Dick Thornburgh (LAW '57) will speak at the conference. Thornburgh, former U.S. Attorney General and former Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and his wife Ginny were the corecipients of the 2003 Henry B. Betts Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. The Thornburghs donated the $50,000 Betts Award funds to Pitt to establish The Thornburgh Family Lecture Series in Disability Law and Policy through Pitt's School of Law and School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, in conjunction with Pitt's Chancellor's Office and Dick Thornburgh Archival Collection.

Katherine D. Seelman, the conference's intellectual organizer, professor of rehabilitation science and technology, and associate dean of the disability programs in Pitt's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, will also speak at the conference, together with such influential leaders as Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero of the European Commission; David Capozzi, executive director of the U.S. Access Board; and Marca Bristo, chair of the U.S. International Council on Disability. The conference also includes Western Pennsylvania leaders, including Paul O'Hanlon, chair of the City County Task Force on Disability, who will provide a regional response to the international dialogue. Also participating will be Bill Millar, president of American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Millar previously served as the executive director of the Port Authority of Allegheny County and is the founder of Pittsburgh's award-winning ACCESS paratransit service.

Those participating in the conference will seek to identify best practices in accessibility in built environment (man-made surroundings), information and communications, and transportation-whose implementation could benefit individuals with disabilities worldwide.

The Convention, which has been signed by the European Community and all its member states, has not yet been ratified by the United States or most European Union member states.

The June 12-13 event is sponsored by Pitt's European Studies Center and European Union Center of Excellence within the University Center for International Studies and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

For more information, contact Karen Lautanen at