The benefits of learning a foreign language have been well documented. It leads to greater employability and cultural competence. It can also enhance one’s ability to learn in all sorts of areas.
Learning a language can offer unique advantages to people with disabilities as well, such as enabling a blind person to experience a destination through the verbal descriptions of folks they meet along the way, or facilitating the independence of a wheelchair user as they direct the assistance of others.
Language can also be an excellent engine for advancing disability rights as it can help us to exchange experiences as we fight for opportunities, respect, and inclusion in our societies.
Over three days of ACTFL conference activities, NCDE Project Coordinator Justin Harford tirelessly sought out allies for MIUSA’s #AccessLanguage initiative from out of a group of more than 8500 language education professionals in search of tips and stories for us to develop our new collection of language learning resources. The clearinghouse seeks to ensure that people with disabilities have access to foreign language learning, so that we can compete on terms of the quality with our nondisabled peers.
While there, we met with several excellent champions of diversity and inclusion, and we are excited to share their insights and experiences with you over the coming months.
Yet while many have stepped up to collaborate with us so more people with disabilities can #AccessLanguage, we still need you. Consider sharing your experiences with language learning through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform of your choice. Help us promote our resources by liking, sharing and following us on Twitter and Facebook.
The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) is a project sponsored by 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 (MIUSA).