Hands Across the Ocean: Exchange Program at Stavros Brings Accessibility Planning to Morocco

Through a collaboration between Stavros, the Institute for Training and Development, and the State Department's Professional Fellows Program, an exchange Fellow from Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism is at Stavros in Amherst studying independent living models for people with disabilities, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and accessibility issues in public spaces.

Hanaa Adarrab of Casablanca, Morocco has been working at The Ministry of Tourism as an auditor of control and monitoring for tourist establishments since the beginning of 2013. When a recent accident required her to temporarily use crutches, she faced a city lacking ramps, elevators, curb cut-outs, or adequate public transportation for people with mobility challenges. This, in conjunction with some background in disability rights and social justice work, inspired her to use this Fellowship opportunity to address some of the shortcomings in accessibility design in her industry in Morocco.

“I hope to convince the Ministry of Tourism to make some changes in their guest houses, and to work with my organization, the Regional Delegation of Tourism, on creating references for design, illustrations, measurements, etc.. We have unclear, ambiguous information about specifications for accessible rooms. I want to try to bring these standards to Morocco,” Adarrab says.

During the month of May, Ms. Adarrab will be engaging Stavros’ work on behalf of people with disabilities across several areas. She’ll be learning about the independent living model, which enables people with disabilities to live in an environment that encourages and supports their rights to achieve and maintain a sense of autonomy in their lives. She’ll also shadow advocates who are providing counseling, skills training, and support to people with disabilities. She’ll study the Americans with Disabilities Act, the history of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. and how it has informed disability rights work, and learn about some of Stavros’ legislative efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. Finally, she’ll engage throughout the month with the Home Sweet Home Program, which provides accessibility ramps and home modifications to improve access and safety for people with disabilities.

Stavros advocates will stay in close contact with Ms. Adarrab when she returns to Casablanca, providing ongoing technical assistance about the best ways to provide outreach to the community, educate the current government, and engage the school systems about disability rights and accessibility issues.

Hanaa Adarrab will present her findings and action plan at Stavros’ Amherst headquarters on May 24, from 2:00—3:00pm.

Stavros has been providing advocacy and support towards independent living for people with disabilities since 1974. The Institute for Training and Development (ITD) is a private nonprofit organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts that has been conducting training and exchange programs for international professionals and students for over 32 years. The Professional Fellows Program (PFP) is sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This exchange brings together leaders from around the world to share cultures, exchange ideas, deepen understanding, and spread knowledge across the world with a focus on civic engagement, the legislative process and governance, NGO management, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, and journalism.

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