AccessiBULL 2010 Oct. 12

Annual event to feature Iraqi War veteran and VA official L. Tammy Duckworth.

 TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 30, 2010) – As a major in the Illinois Army National Guard, L. Tammy Duckworth served in Iraq as an assistant operations officer and flew combat missions as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. During a mission north of Baghdad in 2004, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter she was co-piloting. As a result of the attack, Duckworth lost both of her legs and partial use of one arm.

Since her recovery, Duckworth has dedicated her life to public service, advocating on behalf of veterans and disability rights. Today, she serves in the Department of Veterans Affairs as the assistant secretary for Public & Intergovernmental Affairs.

Duckworth will deliver the keynote address at USF's annual AccessiBULL Showcasing Abilities Day – an event aimed at raising awareness about issues related to persons with disabilities. The event takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the USF Marshall Student Center Ballroom. Duckworth's address will take place in the ballroom at noon. Lunch will be provided and no R.S.V.P. is required. All of the day's activities are free and open to the USF community and to the public.

Raquel Peverini, USF's ADA coordinator in the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity who is coordinating the event, invited Duckworth to speak because family member, Tony Peverini, was part of the medical team in Iraq that rescued and treated the helicopter pilot. Army Lt. Col. Peverini is a 1992 graduate of USF's College of Nursing who, at the time, was serving his first tour of duty in the Middle East.

From artistic performances and exhibits, to panel discussions, speakers, and displays of the latest innovations in disability assistive technology, USF's third “AccessiBULL: Showcasing Abilities” will focus on accessibility and inclusion.

Artistic performances will include: REVolutions Dance, a mixed abilities dance company in Tampa; Sign of Da Times, a sign language musical dance company that incorporates deaf and hearing performers; Omy Machine, as well as artists from VSA arts of Florida.

A panel discussion in the morning led by Amputees Together of Florida will focus on limb loss and living a full life. The afternoon's panel discussion, which will include USF students, will address what can be done to remove the barriers society imposes on people with disabilities. USF faculty member Rachael Haskell will discuss the impact of the media on commonly held perceptions about people with disabilities.

Throughout the day, members of the USF community will display and discuss the latest in assistive technology innovations.

“The purpose of this event is to showcase individuals' abilities and strengths in hopes to take away any stereotypes and attitudinal barriers in regard to people with disabilities,” said Peverini.

“The greatest challenge we face at USF is the same challenge that is present in the community at large and that is one of attitude,” said USF Students with Disabilities Services Director Deb McCarthy. “And the best way to break down that type of barrier is through events such as this that raise awareness and change perspectives.”

Accessibull is co-sponsored by USF's Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Students with Disability Services, USF Veterans Reintegration Strategy and Veterans Services.

For more information about the event, contact Raquel Peverini, 813-974-8616.