Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Disability Employment – Spring 2018 Fellowship

Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Disability Employment – Spring 2018 Fellowship

We are 10 fellows from East Africa participating
in the 2018 Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Disability Employment. From Kenya: Samuel Odawo, Vincent Ogutu, Stephen
Areba, Bernadette Muyomi. From Tanzania: Raphael Mwambalaswa, Victoria
Lihiru, Novath Rukwago. From Uganda: Kasule Ronald, Hassan Wadimba,
Karungi Sylivia. Our five weeks in the United States have provided
us with the opportunity to learn about the policies, strategies, approaches, practices,
and experiences that support persons with disabilities access and retain employment
opportunities. Our lessons on employment for persons with
disabilities have been taken from different AUCD centers including University of Oklahoma
Health and Sciences Center, University of Rochester Strong Center for Developmental
Disabilities, University of Vermont Center on Disabilities and Community Inclusion, University
of Mississippi Institute for Development Studies, United States International Council on Disability,
University of South Dakota Center of Disabilities, Iowa University Center for Excellence on Disabilities
and Development. We all had the opportunity to observe and
participate in working sessions, meetings and conferences, which were discussing the
rights of persons with disabilities to work. This involved persons with developmental disabilities,
parents of persons with disabilities, academic staff, employment experts, members of state
and federal agencies, health professionals, private sector influencers, among others. We learned from them the laws, policies, and
cultural perceptions that influence inclusive disability employment practices in the United
States. In different forums we were given the chance
to make presentations about our countries and cultures, as well as our work and proposed
follow on projects after the fellowship. We highlighted the challenges faced by persons
with disabilities in accessing employment opportunities in the East African region and
shared our individual plans of intervention to address the challenges. We received feedback from the participants
on strengthening our interventions for sustainable impact on the employment of people with disabilities. We are witnesses of the ability of persons
with disabilities to work with the appropriate assistive technologies and
accommodations, persons with disabilities can effectively put their skills into action,
work, and live independently. We have witnessed that persons with disabilities
are able to work. In order to realize inclusive disability employment,
we need passion, empowerment, inclusive programing, assistive technologies, partnerships, and
political will. Thank you!

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