Rachel Bechtel

Fulbright-University of Kent Postgraduate Award – Master of Arts in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Kent

Rachel is originally from Moscow, Idaho, where she was introduced to disability culture at a young age through her friends and family. During high school, she became involved in disability justice advocacy and activism after witnessing disability-based discrimination. These experiences motivated her to study psychology at Carroll College in Helena, Montana, and conduct research on disability-based wage discrimination.

During this time, she advocated for accessibility and disability justice on campus and in her community. Following her undergraduate graduation, she promoted disability justice at a state and national level as an advocate at Disability Rights Montana. To expand her understanding of direct support services, she is currently living and working as a direct support professional in a L’Arche cooperative living community for adults with and without intellectual disabilities in Portland, Oregon. During the duration of her Fulbright grant, Rachel will pursue a Master of Arts in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She will continue to live and build relationships in a local L’Arche community while researching how increased contact with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, facilitated through community care, affects perceptions of intellectual and developmental disability. She is excited to experience supported living within the context of the United Kingdom and study the societal effects of deinstitutionalization.