Social Justice for the Disabled

Why was I sitting at lunch yesterday with David Thornburgh? The entire Thornburgh family, including former governor Dick Thornburgh, was at the law school as part of the inaugural Thornburgh Family Lecture on Disability Law. The Lecture series is funded by a gift from the Thornburgh family, money that Dick and Ginny Thornburgh received as part of the Henry B. Betts Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities.

The inaugural lecturer was Professor Peter Blanck, who teaches law at the University of Iowa, who runs the Law, Health Policy & Disability Center there, and who is a national leader in advocacy for social justice for the disabled. Peter gave a moving talk, describing his efforts and those of his colleagues to secure equal rights for all Americans.

All of this is worth blogging partly because Peter is a friend of mine, and because his work and that of the AAPD, among others, is highly worthy of recognition -- even in this very small way. It's also worth blogging because the lecture was co-sponsored by Pitt's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, which is an amazing jewel of a program and part of a vibrant community of the disabled here in Pittsburgh. For reasons unknown to me, there was no word of the lecture in the Post-Gazette or the Tribune Review, even though it came close on the heels of the death of Christopher Reeve.

That invisibility, of course, is precisely the problem that the disabled face. Spread the word about the existence of this community here and about the support network that exists and is accessible via the Rehabilitation Sciences program at Pitt. If you believe that you or someone you know have been discriminated against on account of your disability, do not hesitate to contact Peter, in Iowa, via the Center linked above. He's a great listener, and a powerful advocate.


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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