Resource Library

Personal Stories
Ocean and mountains

Going Out and Discovering the World

In many ways, Christy Smith is the ultimate survivor.

She was born premature and weighed just two pounds at birth. When she pulled her breathing tube out as a baby, she became deaf. Later, she became the first Deaf person on reality TV when she starred on the Amazon edition of CBS’ popular reality TV show Survivor. She lasted thirty-three out of thirty-nine days before she was ousted and finished sixth.

Christy is more than just a survivor. She’s also an adventurer, a world traveler, and an advocate for Deaf communities everywhere.

Personal Stories
Teresa with students in classroom in Ghana

Opening Worlds Through Teaching

As a Harris Wofford Global Service Fellow, Teresa Pichardo was selected to participate in a Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteer program in Ghana. At the school where she worked, Teresa had a chance to work with students who are Deaf like her and open their world.

Books and Journals
Angled view of a row of color and black and white headshots of disabled women displayed on easels

Host the Photo Exhibit

Available to tour national and international galleries and cultural spaces, the Brilliant & Resilient exhibition is a unique exhibition featuring a collection of photographs and personal stories of women with different types of disabilities, all alumni of Mobility International USA’s Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD). Their powerful portraits and vignettes illustrate the issues that significantly impact their lives, including access to education, employment, political power, reproductive health services, and HIV/AIDS and violence prevention.

Personal Stories
Employee at Pyunic pushes manual wheelchair

Sports Play a Role in Disability Advocacy

Get to know one of MIUSA's partners for a SportsUnited Exchange program in Armenia. Founded to provide relief to children with disabilities following a major earthquake, the Armenian Association for the Disabled (Pyunic) has since grown to empower people with disabilities to be involved in culture. MIUSA talked to Mr. Hakob Abrahamyan, Pyunic's president to find out how sports and recreation play a role in disability rights in Armenia.

Tip Sheets
WILD delegate from Kenya speaking with a representative of an international development organization

Partnership Building Strategies

So, you secured a meeting with a potential partner! Maybe it is with a representative from the US Embassy, USAID, an international development organization, or a local nonprofit. Here are a few things to keep in mind going into that meeting. This is a two-way meeting, both about what you can do for them and what they can do for you; about what you can offer and what they can bring to the table.

Tip Sheets
Two women signing. Photo by Melissa Mankins

5 Ways to Build Your Professional Experience

You know professional development is valuable for individuals and organizations, but how do you fit skill building into your organization’s already tight budget and work load? Consider using these five strategies to start making connections and securing funding to build staff skills and increase organizational impact.

Tip Sheets
Susan Sygall publicly thanking two individuals

Tips from Grant Funders

Several international NGO professionals share their top tips for disability rights organizations worldwide on building relationships with grant funders. From collaborating with other DPOs to building strong partnerships for grant proposals to being realistic and clear about what you can and cannot do, read on for tips on each stage of the grant process.

Tip Sheets
A woman from Myanmar, who has cerebral palsy, bowing in a fashion show in traditional dress

Moving from Inclusion to Infiltration

Begin a new strategy of working toward inclusion by practicing “infiltration” - proactively participating in the services which, as members of your communities, are rightfully yours.

Billions of foreign assistance dollars are allocated toward improving communities through programs such as, entrepreneurship and job training, microfinance, health, education, political participation, emergency response, food security, water and sanitation, leadership training, and women and girls empowerment. These are your programs.

Personal Stories
Photo of Ganga Rayamajhi. Photo by Darcy Kiefel

Influencing Policy for Social Change in Nepal

In the remote mountainous Gulmi District of Nepal, Ms. Ganga Rayamajhi of Nepal, a double amputee, serves as chairwoman for Hope Disability Centre.

Following her participation in MIUSA Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), her organization hosted a campaign to advocate for disability rights and ending violence against women and people with disabilities in Nepal. During the campaign, Ganga participated in interviews on the radio and television to influence policy makers toward justice and social change.

Personal Stories
Karine Grigoryan

Advocacy for Disabled Women in Armenia

Ms. Karine Grigoryan, founder and President of the Agate Center, shares the motivation behind her work and the status of disability in her country.

Personal Stories
Stella with Host Family in a park

Student with Disability is Host Family’s Shining Star

When Katharine Royal was five years old, she told her grandfather that one day she’d welcome a child from Africa into her life. Years later, her childhood dream came true as she and her husband opened their home to Stella, a high school exchange student from Kenya who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

Katharine understood the challenges that Stella was facing. Like Stella, she, too, has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

"Pretty much before [my friend] even fully asked me if I would consider hosting Stella, I told her we are doing this."

Personal Stories
Country flags on lockers in a school

Teen with a Disability Adds Flag to Hall of Nations

Azat Toroev jokes that he is happy if his classmates can find Kyrgyzstan on a map. Since he arrived in his host state of Colorado, he has been raising awareness of his native country while studying for a year at a U.S. high school. Toroev, who has cerebral palsy, has also increased his own self-awareness while in the United States.

Best Practices
Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel

Empowering Self-Advocates with Intellectual Disabilities

Stephanie Blum, who is a personal agent at Full Access in Eugene, Oregon, traveled to Jerusalem and Kiryat Ono, Israel as a part of MIUSA’s Empower Partnerships for Inclusive Communities program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. While there, she partnered with a nonprofit for people with disabilities along with a higher education institution to work on self-advocacy and independence for people who have intellectual disabilities.

Tip Sheets
WILD woman in a wheelchair holding arms up in success. Photo by Brian Lanker

Celebrating the Brilliant and Resilient Photo Exhibit

The Brilliant & Resilient project features a collection of photographs and personal stories of 50 women with different types of disabilities representing 41 countries. Their powerful portraits and vignettes illustrate the issues that significantly impact their lives, including access to education, employment, political power, reproductive health services, and HIV/AIDS and violence prevention.

Personal Stories
Tatiana gardening with another international exchange student

Deaf Student Has the Best of Both Worlds

A Deaf student from Russia, Tatiana experienced the best of both worlds by attending two schools during her Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) year in the United States.

She attended the Delaware School for the Deaf (DSD) for the first five months of her exchange program while taking pre-calculus at Christiana High School, a mainstream public high school. After five months attending DSD, she transitioned to Christiana full time. 

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