- Region, Country: Samara, Russia
- Program Dates: January 27 to February 17, 2011
- Homestay Locations: Roanoke, Lynchburg and Bedford, Virginia
- Language: English,with interpretation into Russian
- Number of Visitors: 10
The program exposes the participants to a variety of community based programs, among them businesses that produce products that support people with disabilities, support groups, schools and universities, policy makers, as well as local, state, and federal government programs that promote the rights of people with disabilities. The delegation will visit public buildings, parks, recreation centers, public transportation and restaurants that are compatible with the needs of the disabled. They will meet experts who will train them in assistive technologies, inclusive education, advocacy, individual educational plans, and a comprehensive overview of the system of defining disability and its assessment in the US.
Traditionally the issue of people with disability has not taken top priority in Russia. In 1995, the first national law defending the rights of people with disabilities was passed. Samara is a region with a significant disabled population. According to the city administration of Samara’s webpage, as of January, 2010 there are approximately 100,000 people with disabilities in the Samara urban district. Approximately 85% of the disabled in Samara are without jobs and tend to be dependent upon the state support system.
This USAID funded program will support and compliment the efforts of the Samara government by exposing people working with disabled populations in the region to US systems, programs and laws designed to promote and protect the right of the disabled.
- to expose the participants to the status of people with disabilities in the US, their rights and the process of integration in the mainstream community.
- to study the means of access to equal education, the activities of NGOs to this end, and to review policies and legislation supporting rights of the disabled.
- to actively participate in extended cultural experience and homestays, thus to see how the American culture and civic values reinforce and strengthen professional approaches to promoting the right of people with disabilities.
- to demonstrate their own culture, as well as their professional and personal values and to build a mutual cultural understanding between the participants and their US hosts engendering long-term professional and social cooperation.
- to implement change upon return to Russia, of use to their local community, transparent in nature, and in line with Russian political and legal practice
Participating Organizations for this program include:
Blue Ridge Independent Living Center
Roanoke Country Public Schools
Virginia Tech University
Department of Rehabilitative Services
Goodwill Industries among others
The Community Connections Program, managed by USAID’s Bureau of Economic Growth and Trade (EGAT) / Office of Education and administered by World Learning, is designed to promote public diplomacy through the exchange of cultural ideas and values among participants, US. families and local community host organizations. It seeks to establish and strengthen links between US communities and communities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Serbia.