The EMPOWER Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) in cooperation with the Office of the Secretary’s Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, supported two-way professional exchanges designed to bolster disability rights in more than 20 countries from all geographic regions.
Discovering Deaf Worlds partnered with ECA to implement the EMPOWER Communities program, which brought 11 Filipinos to the United States in May 2013 for a month-long fellowship designed to identify creative solutions to challenges facing Deaf communities in the Philippines. Similar numbers of Americans participated in reciprocal programming in the Philippines in November 2013.
The goal of the DDW EMPOWER program was for all Filipino and American participants to demonstrate an increased understanding of Deaf education, policy, advocacy, culture, organizational development, and community outreach. The heart of DDW’s work with the Philippines focused on organizational development- improving the skills and capacity of Filipino leaders in the Deaf community. Therefore, a heavy focus was placed on strengthening the capacity of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and its 18 member organizations.
This program laid the groundwork for and was proceeded by DDW’s EXPAND Program in the Philippines.