In 2017, The Association of University Centers for Disabilities (AUCD), with the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, UMASS Boston, and AUCD’s national network of university centers implemented the ADA International Fellowship Program honoring Senators Robert Dole’s and Thomas Harkin’s work in disability rights, education, and inclusion. This program was a forerunner to the current Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Disability Employment but was focused on inclusive education.
This program created opportunities for mid-level professionals from around the globe to learn from the U.S. disability experience about inclusive education and workplace culture. The program enabled Fellows to translate what they learned to their local contexts with the goal of improving the quality of life and equal opportunities for children and adults in their home countries. The ADA International Fellowship Program prepared the next generation of global leaders in inclusive education for their critical roles.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Professional Fellows Division, this program supported 20 mid-career professionals from Brazil, Kenya, Peru, and Tanzania, selected through a competitive process, to participate in a five-week intensive fellowship program at a university-based research and education center for disabilities in the U.S. The program is focused on inclusive education and sought to strengthen education access for people with disabilities globally.
The Spring 2017 cohort of 10 Fellows traveled to the U.S. from April 26, 2017 to June 3, 2017. The Fall 2017 cohort of 10 Fellows traveled to the U. S. from October 11, 2017 to November 18, 2017.
In recognition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2015, President Obama stated, “The United States as long been a leading voice for the rights of persons with disabilities, and we join the international community in expressing our support for them in all they do and in recognizing them as the valuable members of society that they are. This year, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — landmark legislation that helps ensure the places that make up our shared national life truly belong to everyone — we also recognize that protective the rights of those with disabilities is not just an American ideal, but a cornerstone of our work to ensure human rights around the globe.”
Given the importance the United States places on embracing diversity, ending discrimination, removing barriers, and upholding the rights, dignity, and equal opportunity for all people both within the U.S. and around the world, the ADA International Fellowship Program supported the aims of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was created to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities. The ADA International Fellowship Program specifically honored the long term work of Senator Robert Dole and Senator Thomas Harkin dedicated to implementing the ADA and supporting and empowering individuals with disabilities of all ages. Senators Dole and Harkin were important bipartisan champions for disability rights over several decades in the United States Senate. They both played a key role in the passage of the ADA.
Video Message from Former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin
Former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), speaks about the ADA International Fellowship Program and inclusive education.