July 12– 26, 2015, Seinep Dyikanbaeva, Kyrgyzstan
The program gave me a wonderful opportunity to study about disability rights and history of disability movement in the USA.
It was delightful to meet with an extraordinary lady Ms. Judith Heumann in Washington D.C. She has an amazing experience and great impact on disability rights in the USA.
I was quite impressed by the movies titled “The Great Fight for Disability Rights” and “Blind Ambition”. Both movies were shown in the U.S. Department of State in July 14, 2015. I have seen “The Great Fight for Disability Rights” before participating this program. However, by watching it again, I came to conclusion that rights of people with disabilities in the USA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became more real.
People with disabilities want to change their lives. They have one goal, one voice and an aspiration for equal rights and opportunities. They have participation, removal of barriers and isolation from society. I have mentioned those things in the meeting.
I met with Ms. Sue Swenson, an Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, US Department of Education.
It was very pleasant to meet a mother whose son was able to receive an education. She worked hard and still working to improve access to education for people with disabilities. Ms. Swenson created a wonderful model from medical model to social model, focusing on rights and the rehabilitation.
We had discussion on the work of the U.S. Access Board with Executive Director, Mr. David M. Capozzi, developing standards and regulations of accessibility in every spheres which are very significant, such as human life, state, private, architectural, air, water.
Moreover, it was pleasant to meet again with Amy Reid Program Officer, Exchange and Training, World Learning whom I have met in 2010 in Advance Leadership Program of MIUSA.
Meeting again with Daniel in Chicago in Access Living and David M. Cappozzi in Washington DC whom I have met in 8th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 9-11 June 2015.
There was a discussion on public-private partnerships and the ADA25 Chicago Initiative with Commissioner Karen Tamley, Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD).
In Chicago, we visited to Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, Access Living, and Workshop with John Wodatch, former Chief, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Department of Justice.
As a lawyer the ADA Legal Update Workshop was very interesting. It learnt different kinds of cases on disability rights of access to education, technological accessibility at work place.
Millennium Park Welcome Center was very beautiful and reachable place in Chicago.
Mr. John Wodatch conducted a wonderful workshop. He is former Chief, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Department of Justice. It came to the point of summaries of the whole program. We carried an essential meeting with full explanation of disability rights, successes, difficulties, advices and future prospective of disability rights in the USA.
Ed Roberts Campus in San Francisco where the meeting held was remarkable. They have wonderful and different kind of programs about early intervention, monitoring, research center of disability rights and sport programs.
Dialogue on equal access to educational opportunities and the work of the Disabled Students' Program with Paul Hippolitus Director, Disabled Students' Program at UC Berkeley was useful. Their educational programs, opportunities for every students, technologies etc. are very important.
To sum up, I was fascinated by the concept that “person is first” and the focus of human treatments. Finding new solution, the concept of being in process is inspirational. Shortly, the results always go forward by looking for better options.
I am touched by the fact that American person is treated as human being first then comes human treatment. Only after our social status is secured, then our disability is discussed. Finding better solutions of improvement of disable’s life as well as level of general people's life. I hope that this experience I gained in the USA will be applicable in my country. Step-by-step people with disabilities will enjoy life as much as ordinary people who enjoy their life.
Every person I met and every meeting I attended gave me a better understanding of disability notions, also refreshed me with new ideas. Strengthened me with energy and power to do something better for disability rights in our countries.
As Ms. Judith Heumann stated, always analyzing the situation in the past, present and future that we hold.
I am thankful for the U.S. Department of State. Especially Mr. Adam Meier in World Learning team Mr. Vlad Spencer, Ms. Amanda Bischoping, Ms. Aleena Inthaly, Ms. Kelly Morgan and Ms. Wendy Dang for organizing such a wonderful program for us!