Disability & International Exchange Programs Timeline

July 9, 2015
NARRATOR: The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, also known as ECA, at the US Department of State, presents the Disability and International Exchange Programs Historical Timeline. In 1955, the first known ECA program participant with a disability, Fulbright student Davis Duty, who is blind, studies in the United Kingdom. Duty pauses for a picture with Senator J William Fulbright.
From 1970 to 1975, Allen Reich, who is paraplegic, serves as ECA's Deputy Assistant Secretary. He later founded the National Organization on Disability. In 1983, ECA sponsors its first disability-related professional exchange program between the United States and Germany. In 1985, ECA sponsors its first disability-related youth exchange program with the United States and the United Kingdom. The exchange takes place in Eugene, Oregon with a grant to Mobility International USA.      
From 1985 to present, ECA and the Fulbright Commission in Italy offer Fulbright grants in Deaf Studies for Italian students to study at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. In 1993, the East Asia Employment and Education Exchange Program brings young professionals with disabilities to the United States from various East Asian countries to learn about best work practices. In 1994, the Future Leaders Exchange Program, FLEX for short, begins recruiting students with disabilities from Eurasia.   
In 1995, the first disability-related International Visitor Leadership program, also known as IVLP, sends a group from Oaxaca, Mexico to the United States to learn about disability rights. Also in 1995, ECA launches the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange programs. ECA awards a grant annually to Mobility International USA to administer it.     
In 1996, ECA awards $1.3 million to support the Paralympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1998, the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange convenes the Joining Hands Conference to foster national dialogue between the disability and international exchange communities. From 1999 to 2001, ECA awards $1.5 million to support various components of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in North Carolina in 1999 and the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Alaska in 2001. 
In 2002, SportsUnited awards a sports grant to Georgia State University to conduct the first board and disability program abroad. It takes place in Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. In 2003, Mary Tickel, a Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship recipient with cerebral palsy, studies in Wales. Since its inception in 2001, the Gilman program has included grantees with disabilities.       
In 2005, the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange publishes Survival Strategies for Going Abroad, A Guide for People with Disabilities by Laura Hershey. In 2006, the Youth Exchange and Study, or YES program, which recruits students from countries with significant Muslim populations, begins including students with disabilities. In 2006, Open Doors, funded by ECA, begins collecting data on US students with disabilities who study abroad.   
In 2006, the first English Access Microscholarship program to include students with disabilities takes place in Libya. Access continues to offer English courses to students with disabilities globally. In 2009, the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange produces a special edition of the A World Awaits You journal, also known as AWAY. This edition highlights a selection of ECA's grantees with disabilities. In 2012, DanceMotion USA facilitates dance workshops with disabled youth during the Trey McIntyre Project tour of Vietnam and South Korea.
In 2013, the EMPOWER program connects disability leaders from over 20 countries through a series of exchanges aimed at promoting inclusive communities. Also in 2013, a Museums Connect program called emPOWER Parents, links Queens Museum in New York with the ICO Museum in Madrid, Spain to design cross-cultural programs that empower parents of children with autism. In the summer of 2014, Stella Young, a renowned Australian comedian, journalist, and disability rights advocate, travels throughout the United States on an IVLP to learn about disability rights. Stella Young passed away in December 2014, but her legacy continues to inspire.
In 2014, Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders, Aarthi Burtony, who is blind, advocates for rights with persons with disabilities in Mauritius by developing a workshop on technology and accessibility. In December, 2014, ECA and the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange conducts a day-long training workshop ECA staff on disability and exchange program management. In 2015, a delegation of seven Mongolian disability rights advocates, including the Minister of Population and Development and Members of Parliament, visit the United States on a Professional Fellows On-Demand program to learn about the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In May 2015, 60 foreign Fulbright students travel to Berkeley, California to explore disability rights by participating in a Fulbright enrichment seminar entitled US Disability Rights, 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Beyond. And in July 2015, ECA is proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. ECA is committed to including people with disabilities as exchange program participants and to advancing disability rights in the United States and abroad.

Check out exchanges.state.gov to find an international exchange program for you. Join our conversation on social media with #ADA25. Follow us on Twitter @ECAatState, like our Facebook page, ExchangeProgramsatState, and check out pictures of our programs on Instagram @ExchangeOurWorld. Thanks for being a part of ECA's International Exchange Program community.       

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