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US-Egypt Study Tour of University Disability Service Centers Funded

Anna-Margaret Goldman and Kaitlin Fertaly of the Rural Institute, and Amy Capolupo of Disability Services for Students at the University of Montana (UM), in partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder (CU), competed for and were awarded funding to host 19 higher education professionals from 5 Egyptian public universities.

The purpose of the 10-day day study tour is to strengthen the capacity of Egyptian university staff to administer newly established Disability Support Centers and ensure equal access to higher education for university students with disabilities. Participants, including officials from the Egyptian Ministry of Education, will travel to Missoula, MT, and Boulder, CO, for presentations and trainings in the fall.

The US-Egypt study tour is being organized with AMIDEAST, an American non-profit organization engaged in international education and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa, and USAID to improve equality for people with disabilities in Egypt. Helm, a social enterprise in Cairo, Egypt which promotes inclusion of people with disabilities, is also an organizing partner. Together, these organizations are part of a growing effort to support Egyptian public universities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and to promote equal access.

The study tour will provide Egyptian professionals an opportunity to deepen their knowledge and understanding of university policies related to people with disabilities, the role and activities of disability support services offices, practices for how to promote inclusion for people with disabilities, and strategies to address common issues and barriers for students with disabilities on university campuses.

Further, the study tour will provide interactive trainings and presentations on models for university administrative structures and policy, independent living and self-advocacy curriculums, disability assessments, assistive technology accommodations, and inclusive walking audit tours.

Participants start their tour at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT, then will travel to the University of Colorado, Boulder. They will also visit two community colleges, Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, MT and Aims Community College in Greeley, CO.

The partnership between UM and CU, along with local community colleges, showcases how universities with different needs, resources, and student populations provide disability support. Egyptian university staff will be exposed to multiple different models to support students and interactive trainings will inspire participants to design and apply activities and services to address the challenges specific to their universities. The primary outcome of the study tour for the Egyptian participants will be to improve and finalize their plans for the Disability Support Center at their university.

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