AUA Hosts ABILITY Magazine for Discussion on Disabilities Services in Armenia

2 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia – On July 2nd, 2015, the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted ABILITY Magazine for a talk on ‘The Art of Engagement’ with Editor-in-Chief Chet Cooper and Editor/Journalist Lia Martirosyan. The talk shined a light on how the implementation of volunteerism, music, humor, and various visual arts can stimulate powerful sensory messages to a typically resistant society. It also explored the possibilities for Armenia to improve its disabilities services.

Some of the main issues that were discussed were lack of disability-friendly methods of transportation and restrooms in Armenia, as well as the issue of disability shaming, especially within the traditional Armenian family and society.

Audience members, several of whom were from Unison NGO, an Armenian non-profit organization whose mission is to support people with disabilities by promoting their human rights and providing various services, offered their perspective and experience, both as people living with disabilities and as observers. Many commented on the lack of availability of disabilities services in Armenia and the many stereotypes that exists regarding both physical and mental disabilities.

When discussing future strategies for changing disabilities stereotypes around the world, Chet Cooper commented that educating youth is critical. “The more we can get children involved, the more they will see the broader expanse of what humanity is, and we won’t have as many problems as we do today,” he said.

Following the discussion, Unison NGO’s Paros Chamber Choir performed for the audience.

In February 2015, Unison NGO, with the support of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, presented its report on ‘Physical and Programmatic Accessibility, as well as Academic Inclusiveness of Higher Education for Persons with Disabilities.’ The report surveyed 29 higher education institutions (HEIs) across Armenia and evaluated their accessibility for those with disabilities. AUA was the only HEI surveyed to have a campus physically accessible and to have developed policies for organizing the educational process for students with disabilities.

ABILITY Magazine’s visit to AUA was especially significant as it came several months after an extensive interview with AUA President Armen Der Kuireghian that had been featured in ABILITY Magazine’s April/May 2015 issue. The interview discussed AUA’s pioneering disabilities services, no-smoking campus, policies on inclusive education, and much more. The full article can be read here.

ABILITY Magazine is an American magazine founded by Chet Cooper in 1990 and launched as the first newsstand magazine focused on issues of health and disability. The magazine continuously aims to break down myths and stereotypes associated with disabilities.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.