Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Professional Fellow from Brunei and Acting Head of Administration at Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam Nurul Huda binti Haji Muhin shared her six-week fellowship experience at the Disability Rights Montana (DRM) in the United States (US).
This included how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is implemented. For this, she job-shadowed attorneys, advocates and agencies and learnt about the rights of people with disabilities and how these rights are protected.
She shared this at a conversation event hosted by the US Embassy in Brunei Darussalam with government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) whose efforts focus on welfare for differently abled persons, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the signing of the ADA.
“We are thrilled that Nurul Huda was able to participate in the IVLP exchange programme, continue to develop her relationship with Disability Rights Montana after her return to Brunei, and share what she has learnt with other organisations in serving people with different abilities,” said the US Embassy in Brunei Darussalam Public Affairs Officer Daniel Lee.
Also present during the event were representatives from several organisations, such as the Brunei’s Council for the Welfare of Persons with Different Abilities, Pusat Ehsan, the Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei, Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam (SOBD), Brunei Darussalam Association for the Blind (BDNAB), National Association for the Hearing-Impaired (OKP), Centre for Children with Special Needs (KACA) Brunei, Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Association, Down Syndrome Association (ABLE), Pusat Bahagia under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, and the Special Education Unit under the Ministry of Education.
July 26 marked the 30th anniversary of ADA, the pioneering US legislation that prohibits discrimination against individuals with different abilities in all areas of public life. While the ADA applies to those on US soil, it provides clear influence and inspiration for persons with different abilities around the world, including Brunei.
The event was an opportunity for like-minded organisations to engage in a dialogue on the promotion of human rights and equality, especially for Bruneians who are differently abled.
The ADA is a story of civic activism encouraging legislative action that leads to enduring change over time. It has encouraged equal opportunity and reminded America that its heritage of equal rights for all requires equal access for all.