Advising Participants with Disabilities: How to Begin

Advisor and future exchange participant take their conversation outside
We provide free information and referrals and practical resources to get you headed in the right direction.

When a prospective or accepted international exchange participant with a disability contacts you, how can you be a knowledgeable and approachable advisor?  We have developed tipsheets you can use to build your capacity for access and inclusion as well as disability assessment forms and guiding questions that you can use to get valuable details from the individual.

While each situation is different, the process is straightforward:

  1. Start with an attitude of "yes, we can do this, and together we are going to problem-solve how."
  2. Ask the person how they can be most successful on the program. Are there any accommodations, equipment, or modifications that will remove barriers and create access? They are the expert on their disability, while you are the expert on the program and host site.
  3. Use guidance forms and information the individual shares to develop next steps. See "Knowing What Disability Questions to Ask" in Table of Contents.
  4. Consult with other people connected to the international program and people who support people with disabilities in the home or host locations. Use these connections to find resources and make arrangements. This includes contacting Mobility International USA!
  5. Advocate for changes and build relationships that are needed for effective inclusion. See Related Resources in the Table of Contents.
  6. Check in with the individual about what is working and what still needs action.
  7. Establish a proactive communication plan to check in throughout the program. Accommodations needs often change!

With the right guidelines and research, you do not have to be an expert on disability in order to advise and provide access for a participant with a disability.

Access the forms, guidelines and advice from others in the Related Links and Table of Contents.

If you have any questions, contact us.