The Smithsonian Institution and the Senator John Heinz History Center Team Up for "Ability Pittsburgh"

February 25, 2009
News Release

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The Smithsonian Institution’s Accessibility Program, in partnership with the Senator John Heinz History Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Pittsburgh, will host more than 350 students during “Ability Pittsburgh,” an event for local students with disabilities Thursday, April 16, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

During “Ability Pittsburgh,” students will have the opportunity to explore the Heinz History Center’s collections and exhibitions and participate in four distinct interactive modules. The modules are:

  • “Transitions, Advisors, Leadership and Employment”—a resource exchange offering information on internships and employment, as well as resume writing and mock interview activities.
  • “Assistive Technologies”—an interactive demonstration of assistive and accessible technologies, both currently available and those in development, that students can use as tools to increase their productivity at school and work.
  • “Museum Education”—a module focused on current collections and exhibitions at the Heinz History Center, and an opportunity to learn about and discuss the history of people with disabilities in America and their place in that history.
  • “Physical Fitness and Nutrition”—where students will be invited to participate in various athletic activities and learn more about physical fitness and healthy lifestyle choices that address their needs and conditions.

“Ability Pittsburgh” is modeled after the Smithsonian’s IDEA Celebration, a successful program held in 2007 at the National Air and Space Museum. That event recognized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and included activities that supported youths by building awareness, creating networks, providing resources and encouraging them to take an assertive role in achieving success. In expectation of a successful pilot program in Pittsburgh, the Smithsonian plans to offer this event to Affiliate partners across the nation. The Heinz History Center will make this an annual event for the disability community in Pittsburgh.

“Ability Pittsburgh” is funded in part by the generosity of the FISA Foundation. Other participating organizations include the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network, Hope Network, Three Rivers Center of Independent Living, the PA Connecting Communities and more.

About the Smithsonian Accessibility Program
For more than 30 years, the Smithsonian has been committed to addressing issues of architectural and programmatic accessibility for patrons, visitors and staff with disabilities. The Accessibility Program was established in 1991 to serve the Smithsonian, its staff and visitors by guiding and focusing the efforts of the Institution’s 19 museums and the National Zoo to become fully accessible to people with disabilities.

About the Senator John Heinz History Center
The Senator John Heinz History Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the largest history museum in Pennsylvania. The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum is a “museum within a museum,” comprehensively presenting the region’s remarkable sports story through hundreds of artifacts and interactive experiences for visitors of all ages. The History Center and Sports Museum are located at 1212 Smallman Street in the city’s Strip District, and are open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular admission includes both the History Center and Sports Museum. It is $9 for adults; $7 for seniors over 61; $5 for students with identification; $5 for children ages 6 to 18; and free to members and children under 6. Additional information is available at

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Elizabeth Bugbee

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