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Justin standing with a coat and scarf, holding a white cane, in the middle of a food market.

Access Languages to Access Opportunities

"It's a stuffed bell pepper with rice, meat and different kinds of vegetables." My parents listened intently as I translated the waiter's explanation of this traditional Peruvian dish.

As a blind person, I was used to having a sighted intermediary explain the menu, and tell the waiter what I wanted. But this was different. Everything on the menu and all the conversation around us was in Spanish and I was the only one of our group who could understand it. I turn to the waiter and referring to my parents, I explained, "She'll have the stuffed bell pepper and he wants the soup."

Jenny Chinchilla, smiling, holds up a sign that reads: "Derecho a una vida autonoma"

MIUSA Alumna Awarded Fellowship for English Studies

As part of the #AccessLanguages campaign, to increase access for students with disabilities learning and teaching a foreign language abroad, MIUSA awards the Mike and Lisa Sygall Fellowship to WILD alumna, Jenny Chinchilla!

In partnership with the University of Oregon, American English Institute (AEI), the award will provide 10 weeks of enrollment in an intensive English course, an internship with MIUSA, and host family placement in Eugene, Oregon this fall.

Graphic of two postage stamps depicting African continent and United States

A World Awaits You in Africa

There’s a world to explore beyond Western Europe and Australia. Although these parts of the world factor heavily into mainstream media and popular culture, we’re less likely to get portrayals of people living and thriving in Sub-Saharan Africa. We must seek them out to create a comprehensive view, and there’s no better way to do that than to travel to Africa or to host an international visitor yourself!

So what is it about the region of Sub-Saharan Africa that is creating a buzz of international exchange travel to and from the United States, and why should people with disabilities be paying attention? Here are just a few reasons:

Group of participants with and without disabilities sit at a board room table listening and taking notes

Celebrating the Essence of the ADA

We at MIUSA celebrate the ADA every day, but we especially want to take a moment on this great occasion to acknowledge and commend the strategic, unyielding, and hard-won fight - led by disability rights leaders and allies - to craft and enact this powerful, inclusive, and enforceable law. Without the hard work and commitment of cross-disability coalitions, grassroots organizers, lawyers, parents, government champions, and allies from other rights movements, we would not be where we are today. 

Close up of collage of old travel photos featuring people with disabilities plus a union jack postcard and ticket stub

There's #LifeAfterExchange: Linking Disability, Employability and International Exchange

By venturing to other countries, people with disabilities have demonstrated to themselves - and the world - that they are independent and successful, resilient and adaptable. They've gone on to work in the fields of law, disability advocacy, international education, journalism, and more. Their stories show how international exchange can be a profoundly transformative experience for those with disabilities—and their careers, skill sets, and personal development.

Judy Heumann smiles, looking up and out. Blurred figures and American flag in background.

InterAction Honors Judy Heumann with Lifetime Achievement Award

The award recognizes the international development community’s innovative efforts to promote disability inclusion as a human rights issue.

MIUSA CEO Susan Sygall, who has known Ms. Heumann for more than 40 years, was thrilled at the nomination, describing her as "a true disability activist, someone who works day and night, 24/7, to enhance the lives of people with disabilities both in the US and around the world." This nomination was brought forth from InterAction's Disability Working Group.

Group of participants with different types of disabilities pose for a group photo

Creating a Policy Platform for Disability Rights

In late January 2017, RightsNow! technical expert and IFES Senior Access and Inclusion Specialist, Virginia Atkinson, traveled to Yerevan, Armenia to collaborate with RightsNow! partners on several initiatives. These efforts supported government stakeholders in implementing inclusive electoral laws and policies.

In addition, RightsNow! partners assisted disabled person’s organizations (DPO) and civil society stakeholders in advocating for increased access to the political process ahead of the April 2nd elections.

Three WILD women laughing and smiling

Be Bold, Be WILD on International Women’s Day

Disabled women throughout the world are leaders -- as elected government officials, executive directors of NGOs, CEOs, artists, activists, mothers, daughters, and sisters. 

On March 8th, International Women's Day, we honor all the disabled women activists and their allies throughout the world. We especially want to thank our 220 Women's Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) alumni from over 83 countries and our alumni who have led their own WILD trainings in their communities.

Four women, all wheelchair users, seated in a row. Susan Sygall and Judith Heumann are among them with two international delegates.

"A True Disability Activist": Honoring the Service of Judy Heumann

For six and a half years, Judith Heumann, an internationally-recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate, has served the United States Department of State as the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights. Furthermore, since the establishment of Mobility International USA, she has strongly supported its efforts and has been an actively involved in MIUSA’s international and national programs and events.

[Image: colorful illustration of five seated individuals immersed in reading language books or conversation. One figure reads from a book labeled "English." Another has a white cane folded at his feet and accesses his text via a tablet with headphones. A couple read from an ASL book and sign with each other. The last person is seated in a wheelchair and reads from a book labeled "Arabic." The backdrop is a world map illustration. #ACCESSLANGUAGES (hashtag Access Languages) is below, with MIUSA and US State

People with Disabilities #AccessLanguages Abroad

The NCDE, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and administered by MIUSA, launched a campaign to encourage more people with disabilities to learn and teach a foreign language abroad, including English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL)! We have some great resources to share from that campaign initiative, and we hope that you will continue to promote and share the message of #AccessLanguages for people with and without disabilities.

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