Best Inclusive and Collaborative Practices by Professionals in International Exchange
Learn how a few individuals took the lead at their organizations, institutions or in their communities so more people with disabilities had access to mainstream education abroad programs.
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Tip 1: Institutional & Organizational Leadership
- Secure institutional and organizational buy-in at the senior leadership level; reference mission statements and policies that affirm values for diversity and global experiences for all
- Make your case for equal opportunity – prepare your responses to concerns such as “this will lead to a flood of requests” or concerns about risk and liability
- Relate to internationalization or increasing participation goals of the institution or organization
Tip 2: Research and Fund Accommodations
- Agree in advance with overseas partners, study abroad consortiums, disability services, third party providers and/or host universities how accommodations will be funded and arranged
- Compare disability costs at home versus overseas
- Research services which are portable, on campus, in the community or available overseas
- Look into what changes to the host site could also potentially have long-term benefit
Tip 3: Collaboration
- Cross-train staff in the international programs and disability/counseling offices
- Share information in both your offices, on forms, and welcome orientations
- Share evaluation information and utilize alumni
- Promote shared values within your office; train all staff, interns and volunteers
- Add promotional messages, images and welcoming language to all program materials; have brochures in your offices
- Hire staff and interns with disabilities
- Create brochures and other materials specifically for people with disabilities answering FAQs
- Meet for lunch to build the relationships and stay up to date
- Focus on “how” not “if" - a planned approach eliminates pitfalls and discrimination
- Dialogue on specific barriers (use an accommodation form to guide asking questions)
- Give participants a common message of support, include the student in all “what if” discussions and accessibility planning, and encourage students to think about contingency plans and coping mechanisms
Tip 4: Partner and Third Party Agreements
- Include a non-discrimination clause for people with disabilities in partner agreements; state that there is an expectation to allow people with disabilities to participate equally
- Agree on programmatic or course changes
- Do due diligence before determining “that location will not work”
- Don’t make assumptions about what students may need or “cannot possibly do”
- Don’t base your opinion of the person or their abilities on another person with “the same disability”
- Ask about local sources of disability information and support
- Encourage early disclosure
Tip 5: Gaps in Services
- Discuss gaps or differences between home campus/organization and international program policies (e.g. insurance, conduct, etc.) and what can be done to better align these
- Find out what are others doing
- Develop short-term programs
- Require training for faculty or team leader-led programs
- Establish monetary grants to offset personal care and other services not covered
- Create regular check-ins, remote services and monitoring systems
- Link with professional training schools for PAs and ASL interpreters
- Present at conferences and meetings
- Gather data on what groups of people are and are not participating
Check out these Websites, Brochures & Videos:
- AHA International
- American University
- Council on International Educational Exchange
- Michigan State University
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of Pittsburgh
- ESL: Language Studies Abroad
Check out these Good Education Abroad Practices:
- A Three-Year Effort to Increase Study Abroad Opportunities for Students with Disabilities
- American University won a NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) award in 2008 for their efforts increasing students with disabilities participation in study abroad.
- Arranging for Sign Language Interpretation Abroad: A Disability Service Provider Perspective
- How the University of California, Santa Cruz, provided access to study abroad for a Deaf student to Scotland and the steps and decisions that made it happen.
- AWAY Topics - Citizen Diplomats with Disabilities Issue
- The sixth issue of the NCDE AWAY Topics encourages U.S. exchange organizations to include people with disabilities in their international citizen diplomacy programs in the U.S. or abroad.
- AWAY Topics - Disability and Higher Education Abroad Issue
- The third issue of the NCDE AWAY Topics focuses on the ways in which disability professionals advise students on accommodations and funding for study abroad, how disability service providers can work across cultural differences, and much more.
- AWAY Topics - Higher Education Abroad and Complex Accommodations Issue
- This second issue of the NCDE AWAY Topics focuses on issues related to U.S. students going abroad including medical insurance, complex accommodations and institutional best practices for recruiting and accommodating students with disabilities.
- This online publication was written by members of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and includes descriptions of different mental health issues, resources to tap into to address needs and practical steps for study abroad providers.
- Best Practices: Study Abroad and Disability Services Collaborations
- Learn how award-winning institutions, Lehigh University and University of Pittsburgh, create collaborative practices between disability support and education abroad offices to better serve students with non-apparent disabilities.
- This article by Eve Leons at Landmark College, shares practical advice when students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder are adjusting to the social, cultural and academic aspects of study abroad programs. Published in SAFETI On-Line Newsletter.
- Health and Disability Management Plan for Study Abroad
- Lisa Johnson, Assistant Dean for International Study at Smith College, worked with her Disability Services Director to develop a Health and Disability Management form and process to be used with accepted study abroad students before departure.
- One Advisor to Another: How to Transfer Core Advising Skills When Working With Visually Impaired and Blind Students
- A former Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University coordinator shares her experiences on sending and receiving two blind study abroad students in Australia and the overall approach in advising these students.
- Share Your Experiences Advising Individuals with Disabilities for International Exchange!
- Share your experiences and good practices on providing access for people with disabilities in international exchange.