International Fellows Visit ICI to Bring Home New Energy for Inclusive Education

Tue Jun 20 2017
Photo of the ADA Fellows on a lawn at the University of Minnesota.

Twenty Fellows from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and India arrived at ICI in late April 2017 to participate in a six-week intensive fellowship program at a variety of Minnesota organizations supporting the educational inclusion of children with disabilities. It was all part of the 2016 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Anniversary Inclusive Education Fellowship Program awarded to ICI and designed to develop leadership skills to support the educational inclusion of children with disabilities in those four countries. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the 18-month project that began in September 2016 is administered by ICI in collaboration with Arizona State University and international partners, including Bilim Central Asia Education Center in Kazakhstan, Armenian State Pedagogical University in Armenia, National Precarpathian University and the Odessa Development Fund in Ukraine, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India.

"Building international communities of learning that support the inclusive education of students with disabilities will go a long way towards supporting life-long inclusion and a higher quality of life for individuals with disabilities," says Brian Abery, who co-directs the project with Renáta Tichá.

In Minnesota, Fellows' experiences were coordinated by mentors from local organizations that support the inclusion of people with disabilities, including The Arc Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Education, Osseo, St. Anthony and Bloomington schools and 17 other sites. Fellows also participated in a number of workshops on different aspects of inclusion at the University of Minnesota and Arizona State University. Project staff as well as mentors will continue to work with Fellows as they implement their Inclusive Education Grand Challenge Projects. 

After the Fellows' U.S. visit, 16 U.S. mentors will travel to the respective countries for two weeks to follow-up on each country's grand challenge project; conduct workshops on inclusive education, disability policy, and advocacy; and provide technical assistance.