- Dr. Christie Gilson (left), Fulbright U.S. Student (2005-2006, Hong Kong) moderating a panel entitled "The Fulbright Experience: Reaching Out to All People with Disabilities" in 2013.
- The Fulbright Program celebrates the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination and ensures equal rights for individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. The ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.
The Fulbright Program strongly encourages people with disabilities to apply. The U.S. Department of State and program partners are committed to providing reasonable accommodations and support to Fulbright recipients to reduce barriers and ensure equal access to opportunities.
The Fulbright Program provides people with opportunities to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, and it strives to ensure that its participants reflect the full diversity of U.S. society and societies abroad, including the disability community.
- Fulbright Program opportunities are open to people regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, geographic location, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The program is committed to fairness, equity, and inclusion.
Are you interested in applying for the Fulbright Program? Visit the website and watch a webinar for applicants with disabilities to learn more.
CELEBRATING FULBRIGHTERS WITH DISABILITIES
- The Fulbright Program welcomed its first known participant with a disability in 1957, when Jeff Davis Duty, Jr. of Arkansas received a Fulbright U.S. Student award to study law at the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom. Blind since age five, Duty traveled to London with his seeing-eye guide dog, Binney. Duty is pictured below (center) with Senator J. William Fulbright (right) and William Gaines, the Executive Secretary of the US-UK Fulbright Commission in 1957.
- The following stories highlight the voices of just a few of the many outstanding Fulbrighters with disabilities who have participated in the program over the course of its 71-year history.
FROM PARTICIPANT TO BOARD MEMBER
- Christie Gilson spent 11 months studying higher education for students with disabilities in Hong Kong as a 2005-2006 Fulbright U.S. Student. Gilson, who is blind, went on to earn her PhD and became an Assistant Professor of Education at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In recognition of her valuable perspective, Dr. Gilson was appointed in 2012 by President Barack Obama to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and served until 2015.
- "The most exciting part about being a person with a disability and going abroad is that when you get back from your experience, and you encounter another thing that's a little bit difficult in life, you can say to yourself, 'If I could do my study abroad, I can tackle this.'"
Hear more from Dr. Gilson in this video
A DEAF AMERICAN IN ITALY
- "I find my deaf Italian counterparts are warm, funny, intelligent, and expressive, just like any other human beings. Despite our origins, we are united by our common deaf experiences and use of sign language."
Fulbright U.S. Student Sheila Xu, a 2016-2017 recipient of the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission's Fulbright Grant in Deafness Studies, quickly learned upon arrival in Italy that her American Sign Language (ASL) skills would not be very helpful given that most deaf Italians use Italian Sign Language, or Lingua dei Segni Italiana (LIS). During her Fulbright, she learned LIS to better communicate with her counterparts.
Read her story on the Fulbright Student Program Blog
NAVIGATING ACADEMIA WITH A DISABILITY
- After falling over during high school and developing a rare nerve disorder – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) – Fulbright Foreign Student Ailsa Lipscombe (2015-2020, New Zealand) never dreamed that ten years later she would be coming to the United States as a Fulbright recipient.
Currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Music at the University of Chicago, Lipscombe, who lives with chronic pain and vision loss, writes about how to navigate academia with a disability on the Fulbright Student Program Blog.
‘OTHERNESS’ IN JAPAN: VIEWS OF DISABILITY AND DIFFERENCE