In July 2017, nine men and women with disabilities from Pakistan convened in Eugene, Oregon and Washington, DC, for the U.S./Pakistan Independent Living Exchange program. As disability rights leaders representing Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), the delegates were interested in exploring strategies for strengthening the disability rights movement in Pakistan, with a focus on building the Independent Living movement.
The intensive 17-day program gave delegates a greater understanding of U.S. disability history and laws, knowledge and resources. During site-visits, workshops, and presentations, they experienced the outcomes of the disability rights and independent living movements. Areas of interest explored during the exchange included topics, such as:
- Employment for people with disabilities
- Accessible transportation
- Assistive technology
- Adaptive recreation and fitness
- Inclusive disaster preparedness
- Disability in the media
While in Eugene and Washington DC, they became visiting members of rights-based communities, in which independence, equal opportunity, and participation of citizens with disabilities are protected in all aspects of life.
Following are reflections about their experiences in the U.S. and how it will impact their work going forward:
“Accessibility, knowledge, empowerment of disability, and unity. This is my first exchange experience but I learn more, more, more…”
“This program provided me with energy! I will work on the Pakistan Disability Act when I return home.”
“Hearing about accessibility in the U.S. is like a dream, but being here is reality…and seeing is believing.”
View photos from the exchange in the photo gallery.
Since 1981, Mobility International USA (MIUSA) has conducted short-term international exchange programs focusing on disability rights and leadership. This exchange is made possible with sponsorship from the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, and contributions from MIUSA, and the U.S. Eugene/Springfield community.