Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Asia-Pacific Spotlight: Disability & Exchange Resources


Whether you’re an international exchange participant or you’re an international exchange professional, let us connect you to Asia-Pacific-focused resources to add to your international exchange and disability toolbox!

This page is part of NCDE’s Spotlight on East Asia and the Pacific. Learn more!

A row of illustrations of small flowers including pink lotus and cherry blossom and a blue flower

From the NCDE Resource Library

Missy wearing traditional Japanese clothes at shrineTip Sheet: ADHD and Traveling with Medication in Japan

Japan’s rules for medications, such as those related to ADHD or pain management, are unique, and they required a unique tip sheet!

Learn more about whether you need permission to bring medication to Japan, how to request it, and what to do if you cannot bring your medication.

Review the “ADHD and Traveling with Medication in Japan” tip sheet

Tip Sheet: Dealing with Doubts

Resident directors or other international exchange leaders have the responsibility to navigate and negotiate not only the cultural setting but individual differences of participants in the destination. This can be frustrating and enlightening at the same time.

One international exchange provider encountered resistance from an overseas institution in China when attempting to place an autistic student who uses augmentative communication technology. While part of this may owe to cultural misconceptions about disability, which vary around the world, international educators also have a role to play in how to appropriately couch information about a participant’s disability and accessibility. “We wish the home institution would have just said, ‘You have an awesome student coming to study with you, and she is an autistic person.’”

If cultural or disability assumptions arise when seeking access solutions and arranging disability-related services at an overseas location, lay the groundwork for a positive response using our tips!

Read the full article, “Dealing with Doubts”

Access to Exchange Extern Project Highlights

As part of the NCDE’s Access to Exchange Externship program, externs innovate their own community project designed to promote the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange. They often draw from their own personal experiences as international exchange alumni with disabilities. Meet some of the externs whose final projects had a focus on East Asia and the Pacific!

Trevor Attenburg

Close up of Trevor, a middle-aged white man, his hair is straight and he wears a blue sweater.

As part of his online guide for prospective blind travelers, Trevor Attenberg included an excerpt from his travel journal recounting his walks through – and the lush soundscapes of – the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam where he worked as a teacher and as a musician.
Read “The Streets of Hanoi”.

Nguyen Minh Chau

Chau is a southeast Asian woman of short stature who wears a floral print dress and stands in a hallway smiling at camera.

Chau is a powerhouse for advocacy in disability rights in Vietnam and across the globe. This advocacy led her to participate in the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program at the University of Montana to study non-governmental organization development. For her externship project, Chau conducted a three-part webinar series promoting access to international exchange to people with disabilities in Vietnam.

Zhane Strachan

Zhane is a young black person with curly black hair wearing floral top and standing in front of flowers, smiling at camera.As a U.S. student, Zhane Strachan received a Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Japan. Zhane’s externship project was a blog documenting their experiences managing health in Japan as a person with a chronic illness.
Visit Zhane’s website “Studying Abroad with IBS”

A row of illustrations of small flowers including pink lotus and cherry blossom and a blue flower

External Resources to Explore

Accessibility at CIEE Centers in Asia-Pacific

CIEE, a member of NCDE’s Roundtable Consortium on Disability and Exchange, is a longtime leader in international education and provider of international exchange experiences. Students with diverse types of disabilities have studied at CIEE locations around the world!

To further welcome, support, and empower more diverse students to go abroad on their programs, local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with disabilities and other identities might encounter at their location. Take a look at the disability accessibility information that CIEE has gathered for their sites around the world, including in the following Asia-Pacific countries!

  • Australia
  • Greater China
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Singapore

Visit the CIEE website for city-specific diversity resources.

EducationUSA in East Asia-Pacific

Calling all prospective international students with disabilities! Do your higher education goals include study in the United States? Whether you plan to pursue a short-term or full degree program in the United States, EducationUSA has the resources you need!

EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network of over 430 international student advising centers in more than 175 countries and territories. Its advising centers in the East Asia-Pacific region include:

  • China
  • Mainland Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand
  • Maritime Southeast Asia (Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Timor-Leste, Hong Kong and Macau)
  • Northeast Asia and the Pacific (Taiwan, South Korea, Kiribati, Fiji, Tonga, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Japan, Palau, Papua New Guinea)
  • South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka)

For international students, advising centers host group advising sessions, virtual advising, individual appointments, pre-departure orientations, and information about the U.S. higher education system, including scholarships and more!

EducationUSA is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Explore EducationUSA resources for study in the United States.
Explore EducationUSA resources for students with disabilities.

Perspectives on Mental Health Abroad

In observance of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month through a lens on international exchange in East Asia and the Pacific, we share two articles by international exchange alumni who offer their tips for managing mental health abroad, gleaned from their own experiences in South Korea and New Zealand.

6 Mental Health Tips for Your Fellowship Abroad

Dawn Angelicca Barcelona had the opportunity to move to South Korea for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. In this article for ProFellow, Dawn Angelicca shares some of the mental health tips for fellowships abroad she’s learned while working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in addition to some of the coping strategies she utilized on her Fulbright fellowship.

“As someone who lives with multiple mental health conditions, I was worried about where to find support if I had a relapse with depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder. While I knew the opportunity to go to South Korea on a Fulbright was a huge honor and an important first step in my career journey, I needed to be proactive about my mental health in order to make the most out of my time abroad.”

Read Dawn Angelicca’s tips

Bipolar Abroad

As a cultural anthropology major at Oregon State University, Sarah Adkins studied abroad with IFSA at the University of Otago in New Zealand. While there, Sarah blogged about managing bipolar disorder while studying abroad.

“I felt safer knowing that, while abroad, I had a safety net in place should I have ever fallen. My experience is only one of many, and it will be different for everyone depending on one’s particular mental illness and where one chooses to study. Being prepared by knowing where to get help while abroad, creating a basic routine to stick to, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses can make all the difference in creating an amazing experience.”

Read Sarah’s blog

Connect with Local Disability-Led Organizations

If you plan to travel to Asia or the Pacific as part of your international exchange, it can be helpful to research organizations in the area that promote the rights of people with disabilities or provide services for people with disabilities, especially any organizations that are led by disabled people themselves. You might also be able to meet local disability rights activists and members of the local disability community.

To get started, check out these two member organizations of the International Disability Alliance:

ASEAN Disability Forum logoThe ASEAN Disability Forum (ASEAN-DF) is a network composed by Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) of the ASEAN countries of Southeast Asia. It is a platform where DPOs coordinate actions to advocate for disability inclusive policy formulation and implementation.

Visit ASEAN-DF’s website.

Pacific Disability Forum logoThe Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) was established in 2002 and officially inaugurated in 2004, to work towards inclusive, barrier-free, socially just, and gender equitable societies that recognize the human rights, citizenship, contribution and potential of persons with disabilities in Pacific Island Countries and territories.

Visit PDF’s website.

Author: Ashley H

Read Next

Alahna is a young Asian American woman seated in a wheelchair in front of a lake with a tall Japanese gate emerging from the water

Asia-Pacific Spotlight: International Exchange Opportunities to and from Asia-Pacific

Date: 05/08/2024
Geraldine is a young woman with Asian heritage wearing graduation gown with Japanese flag motif, stands in a field of pink, yellow and white cherry blossoms

Asia-Pacific Spotlight: Stories from Exchange Alumni with Disabilities

Date: 05/08/2024
A brick building on the Gallaudet campus with path leading to it under bright blue sky

Deaf History Month Study Abroad Spotlight: Gallaudet University and Fiona Grugan

Date: 04/26/2024
High school student holding flag of Ukraine surrounded by peers in a classroom.

FLEX Alumnus Spotlight: Yevhenii from Ukraine

Date: 04/19/2024
Group of high school exchange students standing on rocky surface in a park with trees behind them.

From Bahrain to the U.S. – Sayed’s YES Journey

Date: 04/19/2024

Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Also Search our NCDE Web Resource Library

Contact Us