For the Media



Throughout 2020, the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with a events recognizing the landmark law that has transformed lives by removing barriers to civic participation, housing, transportation, employment, arts and recreation, education and more.

The Pittsburgh/Allegheny County ADA 30th Anniversary celebration will highlight local accomplishments and champions, as well as next steps for our community.

According to the 2010 census, nine percent of Allegheny County residents age 65 or younger have some type of disability. Nationwide, 40.6 million people of all ages — 12.6 percent of nation’s 322.2 million — live with disabilities (2019 Annual Report on People with Disabilities in America, University of New Hampshire Institute on Disabilities).

The key messages of the anniversary celebration are:

  • The ADA is the most important civil rights legislation of the past 30 years. It has transformed the lives of individuals with disabilities, their families, and the community.
  • Accessibility and inclusion benefit everyone in the community.
  • A disability-friendly community addresses the spirit of the ADA, not just the letter of the law.
  • An inclusive community champions diversity of all kinds, including differing abilities.
  • Universal design concepts and advanced technology hold promise for increasing access and inclusion for everyone.
  • The ADA encompasses more than just physical access (e.g. wheelchair ramps) – it promotes accommodation for a wide range of disabilities in a variety of settings.
  • Although the ADA has created a more inclusive American society, significant inequities remain, especially in employment. People with disabilities who can and want to work continue to face barriers.
  • Disparities in housing are also significant. According to the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission, more than 70 percent of housing complaints in the city are disability-related.

The planning committee for the ADA 30th celebration includes:
Access Mob Pittsburgh
Allegheny County
City of Pittsburgh
City of Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Task Force on Disabilities
CLASS (Community Living and Support Services)
Consumer Health Coalition
Disability Options Network
FISA Foundation
Senator John Heinz History Center
Inside our Minds
Oakland Business Improvement District
Oakland Transportation Management Association
Office of State Representative Dan Miller
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Port Authority of Allegheny County and ACCESS Transportation
Staunton Farms Foundation
Temple University Institute on Disabilities-Western Pennsylvania Office
Tobii Dynavox
Transitional Paths to Independent Living/Voices for Independence
United Way of Southwest PA
University of Pittsburgh Disability Resource Center
Human Engineering and Research Laboratories
UPMC Disabilities Resource Center
Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium


How does Pittsburgh and Allegheny County measure up as a disability-friendly community?

According to Wallet Hub, Pittsburgh is the nation’s 11th most accessible city.

In what areas do we excel or lag behind? How can we improve? What are the persistent barriers to access and inclusion in our community? How can our community increase its understanding of the concept of “Universal Design,” which ensures that products and services are usable by all people to the greatest degree possible, without need for adaptation or specialized design? ADA coordinators for the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County – Hillary Roman and Caylin Snyder, respectively – not only monitor compliance but work proactively to create an accessible and inclusive community.

In November 2019, FISA Foundation and Heinz Endowments launched Disability Access and Inclusion: Moving Forward, a new initiative to encourage organizations to be more inclusive and welcoming of people with disabilities. The full day convening highlighted the importance of removing accessibility barriers that are common in many organizations so that people with disabilities, who are already among organizations’ participants, staff and volunteers, are proactively welcomed and included. FISA Foundation and The Heinz Endowments curated a comprehensive online directory of resources to help organizations address common accessibility barriers. These resources include everything from conducting a self-assessment of an organization’s accessibility to how to plan an accessible event.


Hillary Roman, ADA Coordinator, City of Pittsburgh, 412.255.2102, ext. 457,

Caylin Snyder, ADA Coordinator, Allegheny County,

Kristy Trautmann, Executive Director, Disability Inclusion and Access Initiative

The “ADA Generation”

The “ADA Generation” — a term coined by former Iowa Senator Tom Harkins, one of the sponsors of the ADA legislation – refers to youth and young adults who grew up with the ADA and have the expectation of access and inclusion. What does this generation see as its goals and challenges?


Heather Tomko, 412-759-1356,

“Oakland for All: Beyond Accessible” (a project of the Oakland Business Improvement District) is focused on ensuring that Oakland is fully accessible and welcoming to all who live, work and visit there. Projects include raising awareness among business owners about physical barriers at their entryways, providing solutions, and creating apps and other technology for wayfinding support. The annual “Ramp Crawl” draws hundreds to Oakland bars and restaurants.

How are other Pittsburgh neighborhoods increasing accessibility?


Georgia Petropolis, executive director, Oakland Business Improvement District, 412-683-6243 ext. 18,,

Mavis Rainey, executive director, Oakland Transportation Management Association, 412-687-4505, mrainey@otma-pgh.or

An increasing number of local employers are committed to hiring people with disabilities

Employment for people with disabilities lags far behind the general population, but the data is improving.  In 2019, 19.3 percent of people with disabilities were employed, compared to 66.3 percent of people without disabilities ( ). The unemployment rates for both persons with and without a disability declined from the previous year to 7.3 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. Locally, employers have made a commitment to hiring people with disabilities, including Fed Ex Ground, Allegheny County, Peoples Gas, City of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, Kurt J Lesker, Tobii Dynavox, and Giant Eagle.

Contacts:Wendy Parkin, United Way of Southwest PA,

Pittsburgh is a national leader in healthcare access for patients with disabilities

UPMC Disabilities Resource Center, UPMC Magee Center for Women with Disabilities, and the University of Pittsburgh Dental School Center for Special Needs are leaders.


Ashli Molinaro, UPMC Disabilities Resource Center,

Vanessa Rastovic, Policy Manager, Disability Healthcare Initiative, The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh/ACHIEVA, 412.995.5000 Ext. 569

Pittsburgh is a national leader in access to the arts

Pittsburgh is nationally recognized for its efforts in promoting access to the arts. Local accomplishments include he Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s sensory-friendly performances of family-oriented productions such as the Lion King, Wicked and the Nutcracker. Many performing arts organizations offer verbal descriptions of performances for patrons who are blind and sign language interpretation, captioning and assistive listening devices for patrons with hearing disabilities. Museums and other arts venues have incorporated accessibility features.


Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, 412.391.2060

Vanessa Braun, Manager of Employee Engagement & Director of Accessibility, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, 412-471-2742,

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