Mongolian Leaders Visited United States to Advance New Disability Rights Legislation

First day of the visit to the U.S., February 22-27, 2015. (photo by @ProFellows)
First day of the visit to the U.S., February 22-27, 2015. (photo by @ProFellows)

Seven Mongolian leaders, including Minister S. Erdene of the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, members of Parliament, and leaders of disability rights non-governmental organizations, spent two weeks in the United States exploring the legal and regulatory framework that supports the rights of persons with disabilities.  This exchange program allowed the delegation to draw on the experiences, challenges, and lessons learned from the disability rights movement and government agencies in the United States.

During the exchange, the delegates met with leaders including Judith Heumann, U.S. Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, and Mr. Wodatch, former Chief of the Disability Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice and key contributor to the ADA, and both Special Advisor Heumann and Wodatch previously visited Mongolia to learn more about disability rights issues in the country.

The delegation visited Washington, D.C. to deepened their understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through discussions with distinguished disability rights advocates.  The delegation experienced first-hand how the ADA was developed, is enforced and incorporated into all levels of society from equal employment opportunities, to accessible transportation and inclusive education in public schools.

The delegation traveled to San Francisco to explore implementation efforts in the San Francisco region with leading representatives of NGOs, universities, and local government.  Site visits included the Ed Roberts Campus, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office on Disability, the Centers for Independent Living in S.F. and Berkeley, and the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund.

Professional Fellows On-Demand: Mongolia Disability Rights explore WMATA's accessibility improvements in the bus and metro systems (photo by
Professional Fellows On-Demand: Mongolia Disability Rights explore WMATA’s accessibility improvements in the bus and metro systems (photo by

Up on their return, the U.S. Ambassador Piper Campbell received the delegation at her residence to hear about their experiences and their plans for moving in their work to ensure the rights of Mongolians with disabilities.

This is the second phase of a two-way Professional Fellows On-Demand exchange program which began in November 2014 when Mr. Wodatch traveled to Mongolia to assist in the initial planning and drafting of a disability rights law.  Earlier in September, Special Advisor Heumann visited Ulaanbaatar to host a series of dialogues with government and civil society on increasing disability rights in Mongolia. The Mongolian delegation’s exchange took place this year at the end of February and the beginning of March.  This series of exchanges comes during the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the ADA, and reaffirms the U.S. commitment to the inclusion of persons with disabilities both at home and abroad.