Samaneh Shabani is a disability inclusivity consultant. In September 2017, she spent a semester studying at the University Carlos III in Madrid as a doctoral student in International Law from the University of Tehran in Iran.
Owing to her blindness, she opened the door for inclusion as A4U hosted for the first time a special needs student.
“I definitely felt the positive impacts of this program on different aspects of my life. Personally, it was my first experience of living abroad for a longer period. So, I had the opportunities to discover and to learn.”
Talking about her academic and professional benefits, Samaneh says: “it was indeed a unique opportunity to work with Prof. Barranco. In addition to the fact that she is one of the milestones of disability studies, working with her for me particularly was invaluable, because in my home country, disability studies is a new area of study, and it was impossible to find an expert at the time.
“Professionally, I could connect with some changemakers and disability rights activists, who are still so amicable and supportive to me. I would like to add that the kindness and welcoming culture of Spanish people empowered the mutuality of those communications. Also, my experience with organizations of persons with disabilities broadened my perspective on their roles within the society.”
Finally, to share an anecdote of her stay: “During my time in Madrid, I lived in one of the student housing services of the university. What I would like to share is only a piece of their niceties.
It was almost mid December, and everybody was eagerly waiting for a restful holiday. Many students had planned to leave. I found that only five or six of us wanted to stay in the residence. I was told that we can routinely use the restaurant and that services would be available. I got both emotional and surprised when unintentionally I found that this is not their usual practice, and this is only to provide reasonable accommodation to me. Luckily, I assured them that I knew how to cook and that they could enjoy their holiday.”