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Tipsheet
A high school girl wearing a headscarf and sitting in a wheelchair rides the lift to board a yellow school bus.

Study at a U.S. High School

"American school is so neat," signs Belvion, a Deaf exchange student from Mozambique who communicates using sign language. "They've got libraries and computers and the teachers are great. I'm loving it."

Belvion is one of the many high school students with disabilities who come to the United States every year to live and study on an exchange program. Are you ready to be an exchange student too?

Tipsheet

Students with Disabilities, by Program and Disability Type

YES Students with Disabilities by Disability Type (2007-2016), as shown on a pie chart.

44% Deaf/HOH
35% Blind/Low Vision
19% Physical Disability 
20% Non-apparent 

FLEX Students with Disabilities by Disability Type (2007-2016), as shown on a pie chart.

59% Physical Disability 
8% Deaf/HOH
4% Non-apparent 
29% Blind/Low Vision

Tipsheet

FLEX and YES Students with Disabilities Combined, by Disability Type

Total Number of Students by Disability Type (2007-2016)

  • 40% Physical Disability 
  • 32% Blind/ Low Vision 
  • 25% Deaf/HOH
  • 2% Non-apparent

Students with Physical Disabilities

  • 37% Cerebral Palsy 
  • 11% Scoliosis 
  • 7% Short Stature 
  • 8% Amputee 
  • 3% Spina Bifida 
  • 1% Polio 
  • 1% Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
  • 32% Other 
Tipsheet

Specialized vs. Mainstream School Placements

Percent of Deaf or Blind Students Placed at Specialized Schools vs. Mainstream Schools (2007-2016)

Illustrated by highlighted symbols of students and a schoolhouse

  • 50% of students who are Deaf are placed at specialized schools vs. in mainstream public schools 
  • 25% of students who are blind are placed at specialized schools vs. in mainstream public schools
Tipsheet
A portion of an infographic highlighting total percentage of FLEX and YES students by disability type.

Infographics: Disability Inclusion in the FLEX and YES Programs, 2007-2016

The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programs are competitive, merit-based scholarship programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Over the last ten years, more than 250 students with disabilities from 37 countries have participated these life-changing youth programs.

Tipsheet

FLEX and YES Students with Disabilities, 2007-2016

A line graph showing the total number of FLEX and YES Students with Disabilities, by Year, 2007-2016

Number of FLEX Students with Disabilities, by Year

  • 2007 = 16

  • 2008 = 14

  • 2009 = 12

  • 2010 = 12

  • 2011 = 12

  • 2012 = 14

  • 2013 = 9

  • 2014 = 20

  • 2015 = 11

  • 2016 = 14

Tipsheet
Deaf female student from Malaysia stands in front of the Model Secondary School for the Deaf

High School Placements for Deaf Exchange Students

In the United States, the vast majority of secondary students with disabilities are mainstreamed in inclusive high schools per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). First passed in 1975, the IDEA is a powerful landmark civil rights law that guarantees access to a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) appropriate to every child with a disability.