Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

MIUSA Milestones of 2023


Happy New Year from MIUSA! We ring in 2024 by celebrating the momentous milestones we achieved over the last year and by joyfully looking ahead to what 2024 has in store for disability rights and leadership globally!

Our 2023 Milestones

MIUSA Exchange Programs

Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX)/Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Arrival and Orientation program

23 exchange students with disabilities arrived from 16 countries to Eugene, Oregon, for a week of hands-on workshops on their rights, opportunities and tools for access and inclusion, before departing for a life-changing year as exchange students in high schools across the U.S.

Year of Exchange in America for Russians (YEAR): Support for YEAR students with disabilities

MIUSA met with Russian college students with disabilities studying in the U.S., offering information on disability rights and resources for accessible studies and inclusive activities, to ensure a successful and fulfilling year in the U.S.

Leading for Independent Living

Building Resources and Partnerships for Inclusive Communities in Armenia – The 3.5-year technical assistance program concluded, with two disability-led independent living resource centers established and operating in two regions of Armenia.

Advocacy for Disability-Led Independent Living Policy in Armenia

Virtual and in-person technical assistance and trainings for disabled leaders and local government officials on independent living and personal assistant services policies.

Vietnam Study Tour to the U.S.

This 10-day program brought 15 leaders from government and non-government organizations in Vietnam to learn about model programs, services and support systems for people with disabilities in Eugene, Oregon.

Mobilizing Disability Rights Leaders to Enforce Disability Rights Law and Policy in Nepal

Local and general elections in Nepal provided an opportunity to educate government stakeholders and the disability community to ensure implementation of disability rights policy and legislation. In 2023, the project supported 11 Nepali disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) with small grants for disability rights advocacy actions.

High school exchange students stand side by side against a brick wall, waving or smiling at the camera. They wear COVID prevention masks and one student uses crutches
High school exchange students with disabilities traveled from around the world for MIUSA’s annual orientation and leadership program.


Women’s Leadership

Loud, Proud & Passionate!® Mural Launch

MIUSA unveiled the completion of the Loud, Proud & Passionate!® Mural in the heart of downtown Eugene, Oregon. The historic ribbon-cutting ceremony, led by MIUSA CEO & Co-Founder Susan Sygall and Mayor of Eugene Lucy Vinis, provided snippets of the incredible power of disabled women in leadership.

Virtual Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) Alumni Reunion

Nearly 60 women leaders with disabilities from 37 countries, who are all alumni of MIUSA’s Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), gathered for this online event. In addition to learning about MIUSA’s recent projects partnering with WILD alumni, WILD women met in small groups to share their recent successes, challenges, and advice on various areas of interest.

Fund for Inclusive Movement Building

MIUSA awarded five small grants for WILD alumni-led “Inclusive Movement Building Projects” in Albania, Egypt, Nepal, Panama and Uganda. Projects focus on building collaboration between disabled women’s movements and other allied groups/networks, such as the environmental movement, the LGBTQ community, the Roma community, women’s rights movements, and sexual health and reproductive rights movement.

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting among dozens of disabled women, some of whom are on video and smiling or waving
Dozens of disabled women leaders from around the world greeted one another over Zoom during the virtual reunion of WILD alumni.


International Development and Consulting

Mobilizing Disability and Human Rights Leaders for Inclusive COVID-19 Response and Recovery in Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia

Virtual technical assistance focused on gender, disability inclusion and access, which included a virtual leadership training with 20 disabled women, co-facilitated with local disabled women leaders.

United States Institute of Peace (USIP) Staff Training

MIUSA provided an organizational assessment and pilot training on disability inclusion for a cohort of 25 USIP staff. Two MIUSA alumni from conflict-affected countries were also invited to offer their unique perspectives on disability-inclusive peacebuilding as part of the training. Four additional trainings will reach up to 150 USIP staff.

Global Perspectives on Disability Class

Taught by MIUSA staff at the University of Oregon, this course provides an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to gain a human rights model perspective for looking at global issues of disability inclusion and justice.

MIUSA serves as an “Impact Partner” to the MacArthur Foundation and its nonprofit affiliate Lever for Change

MIUSA provided technical assistance related to disability inclusion and leadership to finalists of the “Lego Build a World of Play Challenge” and the “Maternal and Infant Health Challenge”

Excellence in Development and Disability Inclusion (EDDI) membership initiative

Activities for members this year included individualized advising and a member-presented webinar on “Sharing Best Practices for Disability Inclusion.”

A group of six people stand on an outdoor staircase in two rows; Some people make the "I love you" hand shape in sign language. They wear business casual attire."
A MIUSA alumna from Nigeria (front row, holding purse) meets with NDI staff to provide consultation on gender and disability inclusion.


National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange

NCDE Roundtable Consortium Member advisory meeting

Hosted at Gallaudet University, this gathering brought together 24 representatives from disabled peoples’ and international exchange organizations to explore ways to collaborate and increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange.

Published AWAY Topics: Disability Inclusion and International Exchange

A Primer for International Education Professionals – This 8-page booklet offers helpful guidance around best practices in recruiting, advising, and supporting individuals with disabilities in study abroad and beyond.

NCDE Access to Exchange Summit

A full day workshop that introduced a cohort of 5 U.S. youth with disabilities to the range of opportunities for participation in international exchange and provided guidance for addressing disability-related considerations.

NCDE Access to Exchange Externship Program

A program that engaged 5 exchange alumni in completing outreach activities of their own design to advance disability inclusion in international exchange.

Lindsey presents speaking into a microphone to unseen audience. A sign language interpreter interprets for her.
NCDE staff presents project updates at the Roundtable Consortium meeting on international exchange and disability, held at Gallaudet University


What’s in Store for 2024

In 2024, MIUSA will be continuing several of the above projects, as well as some exciting new programs and activities. Our work advancing disability rights and leadership globally® will include:

  • Hosting a delegation of disability rights leaders from Bahrain coming to the United States
  • Supporting a new cohort of FLEX, YES and YEAR exchange students with disabilities from around the world
  • Engaging WILD alumni and kicking off the fundraising campaign for our next WILD program
  • Mobilizing disability and human rights leaders in Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, Nepal, and Armenia to promote independent living, inclusive COVID-19 response, and other priority topics
  • Consulting with the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and member organizations of MIUSA’s Excellence in Development and Disability Inclusion (EDDI)
  • Teaching the Global Perspectives on Disability course at the University of Oregon
  • Publishing a new issue of A World Awaits You highlighting international exchange participants with non-apparent disabilities
  • Selecting the next cohort of the Access to Exchange Externship program


Join us!

Donate to MIUSA to support programs that make a real difference in the lives of disabled people worldwide.

Author: Ashley H

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