Special Feature: ICI at UMass Boston Hosts Japanese Delegation for Training in Boston

In late October, the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) hosted a delegation of disability and career services professionals from three Japanese universities: Toyama University, Nagoya University, and the International Christian University. The Japanese professionals came to Boston for training on how to serve students with disabilities in higher education, with a focus on career and employment.

The training, called the Leadership Institute on Serving Students with Disabilities in Japan, is in its second year. It is sponsored by the Nippon Foundation of Japan.  http://www.communityinclusion.org/nippon-en 

The 6 trainees, 2 from each university, took part in an intensive one-week training in Boston that included site visits to the disability services offices at Tufts University and at Northeastern University. At Tufts and Northeastern, trainees learned about and observed first-hand effective strategies and best practices in postsecondary disability and career services delivery, and in coordinating services with on-campus partners (such as health and counseling services, residential services). 

Kirsten Behling, the director of Student Accessibility Services at Tufts, coordinated the visit there. “It was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and strategies for promoting self-advocacy in higher education,” Ms. Behling said. “We enjoyed discussing how we approach disability services in higher education at Tufts, through student-focused work, with our Japanese colleagues.”

A highlight of the site visit was a meeting with students at Northeastern University who are receiving disability support. Many of these students have completed or are preparing for their co-op experience, a 6-month full-time paid internship with an employer in a field related to each student’s area of study.  

“Our students with disabilities face the same challenges as other undergraduates going through the co-op process,” said Mary Barrows, senior director of the Disability Resource Center at Northeastern. “It’s all about figuring out each person’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests, and finding a placement where they can thrive and be challenged--with whatever supports may be needed.”

Before coming to Boston, Leadership Institute trainees participated in a series of webinars that provided them with a foundation in disability and higher education legislation and policy in the US and Japan, as well as key issues or practices in postsecondary education.  

In preparation for the Boston training, each university team identified 3-4 issues in disability and career services at their institution that need improvement. Throughout the training in Boston, teams worked on an action plan (with guidance from program staff) that they then presented to the larger group on the last day of the training.  

University teams are expected to implement their action plans over the next 6 months, with ICI staff tracking universities’ progress while also providing additional training, technical assistance, and support in conjunction with the Japanese program adviser and AHEAD Japan.

Reflecting on the training, Mr. Sato, a disability services staff from Nagoya University, said:

“Having visited Tufts University and Northeastern University, I felt that self-advocacy was treated as very important and I became aware that I’ve been taking the same direction in providing disability services at Nagoya University.”

“What we in Japan need to work on more is how to create a social environment that enables individuals with disabilities to be independent and self-determined,” Mr. Sato continued. “We need to do much more work to get there.”

Congratulations to the ICI on this international leadership experience!

For more information about the program, contact:

Dr. Heike Boeltzig-Brown, Program Director, ICI / UMass Boston at heike.boeltzig@umb.edu  

2017 Leadership Institute participants engaging in small group work on strategies to promote self-advocacy among college students with disabilities in Japan.

2017 Leadership Institute participants meeting with staff from the Student Accessibility Services at Tufts University. 

Hiroya Banzono and Kazuko Minami from the International Christian University, and Kosuke Sato and Tomoko Ido from Nagoya University.

2017 Leadership Institute participants: Hiroya Banzono and Kazuko Minami from the International Christian University, and Kosuke Sato and Tomoko Ido from Nagoya University.

2017 Leadership Institute participants meeting with staff from the Student Accessibility Services at Tufts University

2017 Leadership Institute participants engaging in small group work on strategies to promote self-advocacy among college students with disabilities in Japan. 

 Hiroya Banzono, International Christian University (ICU), Japan; Dr. Heike Boeltzig-Brown, Leadership Institute Program Director, Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) / UMass Boston; Miwa Tanabe, Program Coordinator, ICI / UMass Boston; Tomoko Ido, Nagoya University, Japan; and Haruna Mishima, 2017 TOMODACHI Fellow, ICI / UMass Boston. Second (middle) row (left to right): Kosuke Sato, Nagoya University, Japan; Yutaka Yamada, Toyama University, Japan; Kate Pillette, Disability Specialist, Disability Resource Center (DRC), Northeastern University (NU); Mary Barrows, Senior Director, DRC / NU; Kazuko Minami, ICU, Japan; Cate Weir, ThinkCollege Project Director, ICI / UMass Boston; and Kyle Droz, Assistant Director, and Leora Simon, Disability Specialist, DRC / NU. Third (top) row (left to right): Dr. Takeo Kondo, Program Adviser, University of Tokyo, Japan; and Fuminori Oketani, Toyama University, Japan.

First (bottom) row (left to right): Hiroya Banzono, International Christian University (ICU), Japan; Dr. Heike Boeltzig-Brown, Leadership Institute Program Director, Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) / UMass Boston; Miwa Tanabe, Program Coordinator, ICI / UMass Boston; Tomoko Ido, Nagoya University, Japan; and Haruna Mishima, 2017 TOMODACHI Fellow, ICI / UMass Boston.

Second (middle) row (left to right): Kosuke Sato, Nagoya University, Japan; Yutaka Yamada, Toyama University, Japan; Kate Pillette, Disability Specialist, Disability Resource Center (DRC), Northeastern University (NU); Mary Barrows, Senior Director, DRC / NU; Kazuko Minami, ICU, Japan; Cate Weir, ThinkCollege Project Director, ICI / UMass Boston; and Kyle Droz, Assistant Director, and Leora Simon, Disability Specialist, DRC / NU.

Third (top) row (left to right): Dr. Takeo Kondo, Program Adviser, University of Tokyo, Japan; and Fuminori Oketani, Toyama University, Japan.