Disability-Focused International Exchanges

A young woman using a manual wheelchair hangs onto the back of a young man's power wheelchair as he pulls her along a street.
Contribute your unique experience in one of these disability-related exchange programs.

As a person with a disability, you have the right to participate in the same international exchange opportunities as people who do not have disabilities. You may decide that you want to participate in an exchange program that is not specifically focused on the topic of disability, such as one focused on Japanese culture, public health, or the performing arts.

Then again, maybe the topic you're MOST interested in learning about while you're abroad is related to disability, such as the host country's disability culture, disability rights history, the local sign language, adaptive sports, and more. Maybe you want to join a program that works with the local disability community or one that brings you together with other travelers with disabilities.

The programs described below include a variety of leadership development, volunteer and internship experiences specifically for people with disabilities or for working alongside people with disabilities. While these are all great opportunities, you don't have to stop here. If you don’t find something you like among the options below, we encourage you to reach out to organizations doing interesting work and create your own opportunities!

Universities and exchange programs often develop specific programs or opportunities to volunteer, intern, study or teach abroad in a disability context. Since many of these programs are not repeated on an annual basis, we don’t list them on this page. Be sure to check out general volunteer abroad pages, which often allow you to search programs with a disability emphasis.

For Deaf-specific opportunities, visit our Deaf International Exchange Opportunities page listed under the Table of Contents.    

Amandla Project
Disability Focus: Cross-Disability
Age: None specified

Founded by a person with a disability who had interned abroad with a disability organization in South Africa, the Amandla Project is a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities in South Africa to U.S. university students with disabilities.

Disability Focus: Cross-Disability
Age: 22 Years and Older

A seven-month leadership program for visionaries who have overcome adversity and who are keen to drive ethical social change.  All hands-on practical workshops are conducted by a group of international experts (“catalysts”). Kanthari fosters participants from all over the world. Some have university degrees while others have little to no formal education. Some are blind or physically disabled, others have no disabilities at all. What is important is a sense of ownership, motivation, creativity, talent and passion to make the world a better place and strength to be forces of good rather than victims of circumstance.

Volunteer Positive
Disability Focus: HIV Infected and Affected Survivors
Age: All Ages

Volunteer Positive empowers HIV infected and affected survivors through international volunteer service and cultural exchange; recognizing, leveraging, celebrating and enhancing social capital, while promoting informed self-care, stigma reduction and community engagement.

Disability Focus: Learning Disabilities & ADHD
Age: Youth

SOAR connects youth with learning disabilities or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder who want to build life skills with adventure opportunities in the U.S. and Latin America. Applicants must attend a U.S. SOAR program before being able to apply for international SOAR program.

Camphill Communities
Disability Focus: Learning Disabilities, Mental Health, Other Disabilities
Age: All Ages

With over 100 communities in Europe, North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and India, Camphill Communities serve different age groups in a supportive living environment for people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, and other types of disability. Volunteers from all over the world interested in serving as a resident volunteer to one of its schools, training centers, or adult communities can apply to the individual community in which they wish to support.

Global Explorers Leading the Way Program
Disability Focus: Deaf/Hard of Hearing & Blind/Low-Vision
Age: Youth

The Global Explorers Leading the Way program unites students of mixed abilities, including Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Blind/Low-Vision students, on incredible adventures around the world. Participants gain skills as leaders who focus on building a shared vision, encouraging independence and teamwork, learning from mistakes, questioning assumptions, promoting trust and embracing adversity.

Michigan State University – Disability in a Diverse Society Program
Disability Focus: Cross-Disability
Age: College Students

This summer program in Dublin, Ireland, provides students from all majors with a unique opportunity to increase awareness, sensitivity, and understanding of various aspects of disability in the U.S. and abroad. Students explore their own attitudes and beliefs about persons with disabilities through formal instruction, as well as service learning experiences and lectures from internationally renowned experts. This program is available to students with and without disabilities who have an interest in disability studies.

Michigan State University DOCTRID International Research Institute on Autism & Intellectual Disability
Disability Focus: Autism, Intellectual Disability
Age: Post-Doctoral

Michigan State University and ten universities (Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Dublin City University, the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, University of Limerick, University of Galway, University of Cork, Manook University, Queen University, and University of Ulster) partner with the Daughters of Charity Service in Dublin, Ireland to conduct international research that informs policies and practices in the area of intellectual disability. The Hegarty Fellows Program at the University of Michigan funds up to three post-doctoral fellows per fellowship period to conduct research in Dublin.  

Ready, Willing…Enable!
Disability Focus: Cross-Disability
Age: All Ages

Ready, Willing… Enable! (RWE) provides training and resources to children with disabilities in countries such as Dominica, Mexico and Paraguay who are often denied education, jobs and social status. RWE operates their programs through the support of volunteers.

International Disability Law Summer School in Galway, Ireland
Disability Focus: Cross-Disability
Age: All Ages

Held annually in June, the National University of Ireland in Galway hosts this five-day program to equip participants with the skills to translate the generalities of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into tangible reform for persons with disabilities. The program welcomes persons with disabilities, their families, civil society groups, advocates for disability law reform, lawyers, policy makers, policy analysts and others.

Mobility International USA Exchange Programs
Disability Focus: Cross-Disability
Age: Varies by program

Since 1981, MIUSA has pioneered short-term international exchange programs between the U.S. and other countries to empower people with diverse disabilities to build their leadership capacity. Past MIUSA programs have included delegations of U.S. or international youth, professionals, and women and have taken place in the United States and countries around the world. To learn about upcoming MIUSA Exchange Programs, be sure to subscribe to MIUSA's Global Impact e-newsletter or see our News and Events page.