MISSOULA – Higher education officials from five Egyptian universities and that country’s Ministry of Education will visit the University of Montana Sept. 10-15 as part of a tour to learn about improving access for students with disabilities.
During the tour, the Egyptians will attend a lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 11, by George Kerscher, a pioneer in the field of digital technology and accessibility who holds an honorary doctorate from UM. He was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change during the Obama Administration.
Kerscher will present “Publishing and Worldwide Access for Students with Disabilities in Universities” at 4:30 p.m. in the University Center Theater. The event is free and open to the public.
The 18 Egyptian officials will tour UM and then the University of Colorado, Boulder, so they can learn to administer newly established Disability Support Centers in Egypt. They will be in Colorado Sept. 15-20.
The Montana portion of the study tour is hosted by UM’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities and UM Disability Services for Students.
“The partnership between these two institutions – one rural and one urban – showcases how universities with different needs, resources and student populations provide disability support services, exposing tour participants to different successful university models,” said Dr. Anna-Margaret Goldman, director of the Rural Institute’s MonTECH program.
The study tour was organized by AMIDEAST, an American nonprofit organization engaged in international education and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa, and USAID as part of enhanced activities within Egypt to improve equality for people with disabilities. In 2018, Egyptian public universities received funding to establish Disability Support Centers to meet the needs of students with disabilities within higher education institutions and to promote equal access.
The study tour will provide Egyptian higher education 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.
Specifically, the study tour will provide interactive trainings and presentations on different models for university administrative structures and policy, independent living and self-advocacy curriculums, disability assessments, assistive technology accommodations and inclusive walking audit tours.
The one-hour Kerscher presentation will provide a high-level perspective on access to the World Wide Web and published materials such as textbooks, journals and papers. It will explain what “born accessible” published digital books are and how to use and find them.
The lecture will examine copyright laws and copyright exceptions, as well as the Marrakesh Treaty to boost access to published works for people with disabilities. It also will reveal strategies about what a university can do when born accessible materials are not available.