On July 24, the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD-Iowa's UCEDD) hosted a gathering with guests representing seven nations participating in an exchange entitled "Access for All: Enhancing the Lives of People with Disabilities." Members of the international delegation visited Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, Berkeley, and Sacramento, CA; Iowa City, IA; and Minneapolis, MN under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The Council of International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC), a community-based, nonprofit organization which fosters international cooperation by promoting the exchange of ideas and working toward mutual understanding, hosted the visitors during their stay in Iowa City and initiated the meeting with CDD. All members of the delegation, which included individuals with disabilities and family members, were experts in disciplines ranging from psychology to education.

The delegation's visit to CDD began with a tour during which Medical Director Dr. Royann Mraz and Administrator Elayne Sexsmith provided a clinical services overview. Guests then met with UCEDD Director Bob Bacon, CDD Program Coordinator Mike Hoenig, and University of Iowa Facilities Management Accessibility Coordinator Brian Manternach. Bacon outlined the programs and services of the Iowa UCEDD and, at the group's request, offered a detailed description of the Iowa Program for Assistive Technology. Hoenig and Manternach described the Hawkeye Accessibility Ambassador Project, an initiative conceived to foster leadership among students with disabilities while improving physical access on the University of Iowa campus. The presentations generated a rich dialogue, in which Bacon described AUCD's International outreach initiatives and Hoenig discussed philosophical differences among membership and service organizations representing individuals who are blind.

Iowa City's ADA 25th anniversary celebration, held the following day, provided the perfect venue for CDD staff and members of the international delegation to continue the dialogue. While CDD staff members shared remarks on progress in disability policy resulting from the ADA and the work of disability advocates, our visitors volunteered, listened and learned. Many also took the time to acknowledge the benefits of their visit to CDD by sharing observations like: "We took so much time on the tour because we wanted to learn about all the services which your clinic has to offer" and "I was amazed by the wide array of programs, many of which are not available in my country." In turn, CDD staff thanked the visitors for their keen interest and acknowledged that the exchange brought about teaching and learning opportunities for visitors and hosts alike. Before departing, CDD staff and visitors exchanged contact information, opening the door to future collaboration.

To learn more about the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), visit To learn more about the Council of International Visitors to Iowa Cities, visit