Preparing Deaf Fellows for success

Preparing Deaf Fellows for success

Justin Harford and Meredith Lopez


A woman signs on stage

Originally published on the Mandela Washington Fellowship website.

The U.S. Department of State–sponsored National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) often receives questions about how colleges and universities can support international Deaf students. One program that has tackled this challenge in an innovative way is the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship exchange program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. Since 2014, nearly 4,400 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the Fellowship. The Fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, are accomplished leaders and have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their communities and countries. On average 5% of Fellows in each cohort self-identify as having a disability, including mobility, hearing, vision, and other medical disabilities.

A lesser-known fact is that the Fellowship offers a Pre-Institute in American Deaf Culture to incoming Fellows who are Deaf or hard of hearing, a concept strongly endorsed by NCDE. This type of collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, IREX, and Gallaudet University, the premier Deaf university in the world, is a great place for other programs and educational institutions to start.

Continue reading on the Mandela Washington Fellowship website.