Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Fulbright Foreign Students Explore Disability Inclusion in Berkeley


In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), graduate students and early-career professionals from around the globe explored U.S. innovations in disability inclusion.

The birthplace of the U.S. disability rights movement, Berkeley, California, was the setting for the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Foreign Student enrichment seminar, U.S. Disability Rights: 25 Years of the ADA and Beyond, a four-day event for 60 “Fulbrighters” to learn first-hand from the movement’s major change makers about the ADA, U.S. achievements, and the future of disability rights both nationally and globally. The Fulbrighters examined trends and innovations that have impacted the lives of people with disabilities in the United States, and explored ways of making advances in their home countries.

As Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan stated in September 2014, “International exchange programs change lives, and we firmly believe that the benefits of people-to-people exchange should be available to everyone. We are committed to leading by example as we demonstrate fairness, equity, and inclusion.”

Highlighting the ADA’s 25th anniversary, the agenda explored disability through a human rights lens and engaged participants in lively dialogues around key topics including:

  • Community inclusion though accessible public spaces and programs
  • Global perspectives on disability
  • Innovative designs that have impacted lives of disabled citizens
  • Legacy and impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Trends of disability across sectors such as sports, technology, education, employment, etc.
  • Universal design

Updates from the event were shared on Facebook and Twitter using #Fulbright and #ADA25. To access photos from the event, see below or view them on flickr.

The Speakers

  • Jeffrey Bleich, Member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board
  • Tiana Tozer, Paralympic Medalist
  • Judith Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State
  • William Leddy, Lead Architect of Ed Roberts Campus (ERC) and Principal at Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
  • Arlene Mayerson, Directing Attorney at Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
  • Pat Wright, Former Director of Government Affairs at Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
  • Mary Lou Breslin, Co-founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
  • Haben Girma, Skadden Fellowship Attorney at Disability Rights Advocates
  • Paul Hippolitus, Director of Disabled Students’ Program at the University of California Berkeley
  • Eric Neudel, Director, and Alison Gilkey, Associate Producer, “Lives Worth Living”
  • Ralf Hotchkiss, Cofounder of Whirlwind Wheelchairs
  • Neil Jacobson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Abilicorp
  • Victor Pineda, Founder of World Enabled
  • Partners of the Ed Roberts Campus:
    • Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP)
    • Center for Accessible Technology (CforAT)
    • Center for Independent Living (CIL)
    • Computer Technologies Program (CTP)
    • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
    • Through the Looking Glass (TLG)
    • World Institute on Disability (WID)

The Attendees

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 360,000 participants from more than 160 countries with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. 

MIUSA was a coordinating partner of the Fulbright Foreign Student U.S. Disability Rights Seminar.

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The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange is a project of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange between the United States and other countries, and is supported in its implementation by Mobility International USA.

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