It always is such an honor to participate in informational exchanges with the U.S. State Department. I have enjoyed my trips to Panama, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan and Kazakhstan. Although the Coronavirus has impacted international travel, I was very excited to participate in a series of virtual events with representatives in Tunisia this fall.

In these events, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), talked about the civil rights journey leading to this landmark legislation and the path forward from that day as well as equal employment opportunity and how stigma impacts those with disabilities throughout the world. I met several future civil rights leaders for people with disabilities, including Oumaima Ben Amore, an energy engineering student. Oumaima shared the following ADA Essay, “Access for All,” with me. I look forward to learning more about the civil rights journey of Oumaima and others in Tunisia in the coming months.

If you would like to learn more about my experiences with the U.S. State Department, I encourage you to read these blog entries from Shinya Uehara and Tatsuya Yohena or listen to the Disability Matters broadcast on The employment of Japanese People with Disabilities with Makito Kamiya, CEO and founder of Associa Co, Ltd and Takanoir Sai, assistant to the chairperson, DPI International.

Access for All

An ADA Essay by Oumaima Ben Amore

A disability is not an impairment within the body. It is an impairment within the mindset. Only our minds can hinder our activity or restrict our participation in this world. We are all able to learn. We are all able to work. We are all able to engage in social and recreational activities. It is not the absence of or difference in a person’s body structure or function that holds him back, it is the way he copes with it. So what conditions should be improved? What accommodations should be provided to diminish the difficulties faced by people with disabilities?

We are proud of what the American with disabilities act has accomplished so far. We gained respect, dignity, self-worth, and the acknowledgment for our rights But we still want to go further. We want to enhance our laws to match the needs of disabled people. We want to be active members politically. In fact, No one can acknowledge our needs better than us. If we take high positions in the government, we can spread our voices and defend our rights. Obviously, Our participation in decision making and governance will help to build a global consciousness.

Markedly, In the same way, a farm is full of a variety of plants, the world is full of disabled and non-disabled people. Plants need favorable conditions to grow, likewise humans. If they are given the right circumstances they will flourish. And when they do the world becomes a better place. Educational programs should be enhanced given the needs of disabled people. More innovative activities should be integrated to make the information accessible. All forms of communication, for instance, sign language, should be implemented in schools, hospitals, and in the different social institutions. Moreover, Assistive technology devices should be available for all. Remember, Our slogan is “Make it accessible for all.” If everyone is given the same opportunity to learn, to enhance his skill and expand his knowledge in a certain field the world will be fulfilled with creative talented and intellectual persons.

We are different. And being different constitute the pillars of exchange, of sharing, and enrichment. The world needs the contribution of every one of us. Let everyone’s knowledge and skill be the interconnecting pieces of the future development puzzle. Imagine a group of people discussing a certain topic or issue. Every member has his perspective. His attitude is built and interpreted in terms of his own frame of reference. How would you then imagine the taken decision? How would you see the final result? It must be a detailed, enhanced, and generalized decision. And that is exactly what we need to ensure the satisfaction of everybody and therefore the perfection of the work.

Now we can smile with delight

Proudly, we have won the fight

We have been a strong knight

defending his legitimate right

our situation is not a plight

We are here to reunite

for a path that shines so bright

Listen to Oumaima Ben Amore read this essay on her podcast, Colourful World

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