Joining Hands Virtual Symposium- August 12-21, 2020

"National Clearinghouse on Disability Exchange Joining Hands Virtual Symposium August 12-21, 2020" Image of two hands cupping the globe.
The NCDE convened the Joining Hands Virtual Symposium, a program about disability inclusion in international exchange.
August 12, 2020 - August 21, 2020

The NCDE convened its first Joining Hands "Virtual" Symposium on disability inclusion in international exchange. The program had close to 1,000 registrants from 70 countries! 

Visit the official Joining Hands Virtual Symposium for session recordings, highlights, and materials


This summer's Virtual Joining Hands Symposium offered a dynamic, creative, and inclusive program on disability inclusion in international exchange. Utilizing a webinar platform, the NCDE offered dynamic sessions, thoughtful speakers, and a robust poster fair. Below are a few highligts of what we experienced during the symposium:

  • Through this virtual platform, we heard from disability activists from all across the world about the impact of international exchange on disability rights
  • We had an in-depth conversation on disability and intersectionality with international exchange alumni with disabilities and who identify with other diverse identities
  • We collected a number of posters on inclusion through our Virtual Poster Fair
  • Many joined us for “Disability at the Movies” watching the short film Opening Doors to College discussing the hundreds of colleges across the U.S. that are opening doors to higher education for students with intellectual disabilities followed by a discussion on opening doors to study abroad for the students as well
  • We also learned many practical tips from building accessible virtual exchange programs to identifying resources and tools to support and fully integrate both American and international participants with disabilities in all types of international exchange programs. 


  • Persons with disabilities interested in participating in international exchange
  • International exchange alumni with disabilities
  • International educators and exchange practitioners
  • Disability organizations and disability service professionals
  • U.S. Department of State staff
  • Volunteer-sending organizations
  • Anyone interested in enhancing disability access in the broad range of international opportunities and citizen diplomacy!

The NCDE plans to convene the next Joining Hands Symposium in partnership with Gallaudet University in Washington, DC for Summer 2021. The NCDE will continue to monitor the impact of the global pandemic for in-person events and share updates with our community. 

The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange is a project of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange between the United States and other countries, and is supported in its implementation by Mobility International USA. 

Event location: 

Zoom Event