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Disability Rights Expert Earns Fulbright Research Award
Associate Professor of Law Michael Schwartz has received a Fulbright Award for study at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland for the spring 2015 semester. Schwartz, who is deaf, is an expert on disability law and international human rights, and is the director of the Disability Rights Law Clinic at the College of Law.
His research will be on accessibility of mental health services for deaf and hard of hearing people in Northern Ireland in light of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the country’s domestic disability law.
“I am thrilled and honored to have been selected for such a prestigious and worthy award,” says Schwartz. “Given the fact the United Kingdom has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has a domestic anti-discrimination law, it will be interesting to gauge how accessible its mental health services are for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. This is a particularly acute issue for the community given the recent history of violence between Catholics and Protestants known as the Troubles. I will employ qualitative research methodology, i.e., a series of interviews, to better understand how deaf and hard of hearing people navigate the mental health system, and to formulate recommendations for addressing gaps in the system.”
Schwartz’s research home will be at Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, where he will team with Prof. Bronagh Byrne and others in conducting his research.
In September 2013, Schwartz participated in a U.S. Department of State sponsored Professional Fellows EMPOWER Program, administered by Mobility International USA (MIUSA). Representing the only law clinic in the United States to participate, he partnered with two Ethiopia-based organizations, Human Rights Commission and the National Ethiopian Women’s Rights Organization, to implement a long-term project on establishing a legal aid clinic for women and children. The work is ongoing with plans to continue a program of education for judicial and law enforcement personnel in Ethiopia.