Resource Library

Tipsheet
Two exchange participants of diverse backgrounds smile in the camera: A power wheelchair user and a woman of short stature

Charging Your Battery Abroad

When you've just arrived in a foreign country after a long flight, the last thing you want to hear is that there is a glitch with your wheelchair battery. So what do you need to do?

First, know that most countries use electricity at approximately 220 volts/50 hertz, while North America (along with Central America and part of Japan) uses 110 volts/ 60 hertz. If electronic or electrical equipment is used with the wrong voltage, it can be severely damaged, pose a fire or electrocution hazard, or not charge properly.

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WILD woman speaking with Susan Sygall. Photo by Kathleen Jo Ryan

Disability Organizations

You are the heart of what we do! It is Disabled People's Organizations (DPO) worldwide that are doing the work to advance disability rights.

Whether or not you have taken part in MIUSA's conference workshops, leadership programs, or international exchanges, you are a leader. Your efforts move forward social justice in all parts of society.

You can read our strategies, funder's tips, and about each other's successes to tap into some of the knowledge that has been generated through cross-border conversations.

Tipsheet
Three people, including the wheelchair user, lean over to check out the axel of her manual wheelchair

10 Ways To Avoid Broken Equipment

Adapting mobility equipment you use for a new environment and preparing for potential breakdowns and repairs can go a long way towards ensuring a hassle-free, rewarding international experience.

Tipsheet
A man pushes himself in his manual wheelchair with luggage on top his lap at a Swedish train station

Choosing the Right Luggage (Without the Baggage!)

Traveling internationally with a mobility disability may be smoother by choosing luggage that fits you. Try experimenting before making a new luggage purchase to see what is most comfortable to transport on your own or what is best to protect your equipment when others handle it.

Tipsheet
Two men on each side lift the frame of Susan's wheelchair up a short step

Lifting and Transferring People with Physical Disabilities

Being carried is an uncomfortable experience for many with disabilities, both physically and emotionally. Lifting a person up stairs or around obstacles is not an acceptable alternative to appropriate accessibility measures. Most people prefer to be lifted only as a last resort.

Tipsheet
a portable ramp with handrails

Inaccessible? Ramp it!

The slope of a ramp should be no greater than 1:12, which is 12 feet (or meters) of horizontal ramp for every 1 foot (or meter) of vertical height. Some people with disabilities can use personal ramps that are shorter and steeper than 1:12. Before building a short ramp to provide access for a person with a disability, discuss whether a steeper ramp would work for that individual.

Tipsheet
Group of colleagues in discussion

Costs & Legal Obligations

Many exchange advisors assume that accommodating people with disabilities in their programs will be prohibitively expensive. In fact, many accommodations are cost-free or quite inexpensive. The key to finding low-cost solutions is to foster open communication with the exchange participant and to think broadly about the possibilities and resources available to the organization and the participant.

Tipsheet
Young American with learning disability smiles with two Muslim women during a cultural exchange

What if They Don't Disclose?

No one likes to feel un-informed, especially when having to make arrangements or decisions related to international exchange. Learn now how to be prepared even without knowing who has a disability (or might have their first onset of one overseas).

You can shift from focusing on how to know enough, early enough, to accommodate someone with a disability – why not instead focus on your own ability to put in place good program standards (or verify such standards with those you partner with)? This is more in your control.

Tipsheet
A Muslim man with an American woman dressed in red head scarf smile.

Cultural Differences & Disability: Tips for the Program Advisor

Disabled or not, all international travelers have experienced the awkwardness of being different or standing out in a new country. A person with a disability may also experience other cultural attitudes because of their disability.

Such experiences can be confusing, frustrating, or empowering. By their very presence and active participation in your exchange program, people with disabilities can challenge their own and others' perceptions.

Tipsheet
Advisor and future exchange participant take their conversation outside

Advising Participants with Disabilities: How to Begin

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:

Tipsheet
A blind man sits near a flower-filled landscape.

Disability Resources in the Community

Whether you want to find personal services, get your equipment repaired, or try adaptive sports, find what you need in your host community.

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Development staff talking with African woman in power chair and Deaf woman from Jordan - photo by Darcy Kiefel www.kiefelphotography.com

International Development Organizations

People with disabilities are powerful leaders influencing national policies, advocating for changes, organizing regional alliances and increasing their participation in mainstream development projects that directly impact their lives. Engage disabled leaders in your efforts.

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A young woman uses a wheelchair to explore a street in India while children follow.

Plan Your Travel Abroad

Do you have a disability and wonder what it would be like to study, volunteer, or intern in another country? Let us help you reach your goal to participate in a meaningful overseas experience.

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