Ivoirians Experience Positive Impact from the Americans with Disabilities Act

Essaie Group (Dept. of State)
Essaie Group (Dept. of State)

U.S. Embassy Abidjan held three Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)- related activities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this ground-breaking law, as well as several postings on social media.

On July 22, the Information Resource Center held a panel discussion by disabled activists, including  an educator, a CFO, a social entrepreneur and a PhD. student in human development. Sixty-five people attended, many of whom were also living with a disability and members of six different NGOs that advocate for the professional and social integration of disabled people.  Panelists focused on the professional integration of people living with disabilities and access to training so that they are employed according to their actual competence, rather than filling dead end jobs. Participants also hope the Embassy can assist in building awareness of the Ivorian law on the integration of disabled persons.

On July 23, the Information Section accompanied a CFO who lost his vision six years ago to a community radio station, where he spoke about the assistive technologies developed as a result of the ADA  that have helped him maintain his professional position and also start up a business on the side.   By the end of the interview the conversation had changed from talking about life as a handicapped person, to talking about the opportunities for people living with disabilities, and some suggestions where Côte d’Ivoire could improve – from manageable walkways to more educational opportunities, to job training that is meaningful and allows people to reach their potential.

On July 24 the Ambassador Terence P. McCulley welcomed La Compagnie 42.16, a mixed arts troupe comprised of 23 singers, dancers and actors. Their main objectives are: to raise public awareness of the situation for people who are blind or visually impaired; to make performing arts accessible for people with disabilities; to train and build capacity in the arts and showcase their talents; to facilitate their integration into the working world through arts and cultural activities; and to promote and develop business activities in the arts and arts education. In addition to Embassy personnel, the full house included members of the community and the media.  The ceremony ended with a surprise a capella performance by Tonton Zela, a well-known Ivoirian performer.