Resource Library

Justin standing with a coat and scarf, holding a white cane, in the middle of a food market.

Access Languages to Access Opportunities

"It's a stuffed bell pepper with rice, meat and different kinds of vegetables." My parents listened intently as I translated the waiter's explanation of this traditional Peruvian dish.

As a blind person, I was used to having a sighted intermediary explain the menu, and tell the waiter what I wanted. But this was different. Everything on the menu and all the conversation around us was in Spanish and I was the only one of our group who could understand it. I turn to the waiter and referring to my parents, I explained, "She'll have the stuffed bell pepper and he wants the soup."

infographic of 3 circular images: 1) 3 students sitting at their desks arranged in a circle, 2) hand writing on a piece of paper with pencil, 3) 2 people speaking face to face.

Infographic: No-Cost Universal Design Examples

No-Cost! Universal Design Examples to Increase Access to Language Learning

From gathering information, to expressing ideas, and staying engaged – individuals learn in various ways.

American man seated in a wheelchair extends his hand to two Chinese delegates.

People-to-People Exchanges

MIUSA implements short-term international exchange programs in the United States and abroad and has worked with over 2,300 alumni with and without disabilities from over 135 countries. These alumni leaders are part of a global MIUSA family. Our unique programs focus on youth, young adults, parents, professionals and women in a world where people with disabilities commonly face discrimination, barriers and isolation, especially as they become leaders. These alumni leaders are part of a global MIUSA family.

A large group of international students laughing as they sit in a circle in their chairs in a classroom. There is a man typing in front of the circle and there is a woman to the right using hand gestures to signal to one student, as he looks to her using sign language.

Teaching Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Language


While deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) students can face challenges with hearing and listening, their experiences cannot be easily generalized. Some people who are completely deaf are still oral, while others prefer to use sign language. Others are nonsigning and prefer captions. Others simply have difficulty hearing, and can supplement their limited hearing with lipreading. What works for one person might not work for the next, so keep an open dialogue with your students.

postcard graphic. Over a cartoon world map background reads "Greetings from Travelers Abroad: Life After Exchange" in stylized text. Inside each of the bubble letters of "Abroad" are photos of travelers with diverse disabilities exploring landmarks, speaking or signing, and working

Ripple Effects Season 3: #LifeAfterExchange

Ripple Effects: Travelers with Disabilities Abroad is a podcast brought to you by the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by MIUSA. Enjoy vivid stories from people with disabilities going abroad and the positive impact these experiences have on demonstrating what is possible.

Listen Now for available episodes for Season 3 on SoundCloud. Access transcripts for each episode from the Table of Contents.

Colorful image of "bridging support to build student success" written over the world map

Infographic: Bridging Support to Build Student Success

Studying in the U.S. offers many opportunities to reach your academic goals:

  • English Learning
  • Community College
  • University or College
  • Graduate School

There are many support sources available to provide students the tools to succeed:

National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE)

  • Pre-Arrival Support
  • U.S. Disability Rights and Culture
  • Funding Options
  • Connect with other students with disabilities

Educational Institution

Room full of students talking and sitting at their desks in small groups with blue books on their desk and pens in hand.

Teaching English as a Second Language to Students with Learning Disabilities

Students with learning disabilities (LDs) may struggle in a language classroom, but ultimately reap the same benefits as others.
Consider viewing our discussion on the definition of a learning disability as well as methods of identification by referring to the related resources section at the bottom of this page.

According to Ann Sax Mabbott, who has provided case studies of several students with LDs, many achieve success as language learners and even become foreign language teachers.

Jenny Chinchilla, smiling, holds up a sign that reads: "Derecho a una vida autonoma"

MIUSA Alumna Awarded Fellowship for English Studies

As part of the #AccessLanguages campaign, to increase access for students with disabilities learning and teaching a foreign language abroad, MIUSA awards the Mike and Lisa Sygall Fellowship to WILD alumna, Jenny Chinchilla!

In partnership with the University of Oregon, American English Institute (AEI), the award will provide 10 weeks of enrollment in an intensive English course, an internship with MIUSA, and host family placement in Eugene, Oregon this fall.

A smiling blind man in a suit holds a cane while greeting a man in a formal suit.

Gain Professional Experience

Professional exchanges, such as internships and fellowships, provide opportunities for international visitors to gain career experience or to share their knowledge or skills while living in the United States. These exchanges can last from a few weeks to a few years. Many people with disabilities have traveled to the U.S. to gain career experience or to share their expertise in a variety of professional fields.

Study Abroad advisor meets with a blind student

Exchange Professionals

You deal with many diverse locations and programs -- now learn how a diversity of people can take part in what you do.

Disability is diversity. If a person with a disability meets the qualifications and is eligible, start with YES! Accept them first and then focus on how to provide reasonable accommodations that make the program accessible. It's about equal opportunity.

By building flexibility into your programs, you meet more people's needs. What works for someone with a disability can benefit others too.

A woman stands with her Empower Blind People Kyrgyz blind students wearing a traditional Kyrgyz dress holding her white cane.

U.S. Department of State Increases Access to Learning English

The English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) provides a foundation of English language skills to talented non-elite 14–18 year-olds through after-school classes and intensive summer sessions.

ACCESS:  Disability-Related Country Spotlights

Mongolia: The Regional English Language Office (RELO) assisted with the creation of a program for Deaf and Blind students to gain knowledge of American Sign Language, Braille tactile writing skills, and enriched knowledge about American culture, friendship and opportunities towards the students’ future.

Best Practice
4 international students sitting in desks next to each other looking up to the front of the classroom.

Addressing Learning Disabilities in Intensive English Programs

Through meetings to discuss probation and disqualification status, to the discovery of learning disabilities in her own family, Maiko came to appreciate that the reason why so many students were struggling was most likely related to undiagnosed learning disabilities.

Something needed to be done if her program was going to take its work to the next level. After putting in place procedures to educate teachers, destigmatize, detect and diagnose learning disabilities, as well as partner with the university’s Accessible Education Center, things took a turn for the better.

A man holding a white cane demonstrates how to use a refreshable braille display to two girls.

Tips to #AccessLanguages

These tips will help you gain #AccessLanguages no matter what your disability, and no matter what the language. 

Research Language Nuances

Understand what is involved with your language of interest.

Best Practice
Erinn sitting next to a local Spanish man taking guitar lessons from him.

Educating by Example: Including Teachers with Disabilities

This is best illustrated through the experience of the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), which accommodated Erinn Snoeyink, first in a semester abroad program in Seville, Spain, and then on their Teach in Spain Program in Toledo. Erinn, who is blind, wanted the opportunity to get to know Spain better after her first experience, and CIEE was more than happy to oblige.