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Disability Dialogue and Strategies at CIEE’s Annual Conference


2019 CIEE Annual Conference: “Opening Doors to Increase Diversity in Study Abroad”

The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) has recognized the growing number of students studying abroad each year, yet the number of underrepresented groups, including students with disabilities, continue to stay low. 

This year CIEE held their annual conference to discuss how international educators can strategize together to dramatically increase diversity in study abroad including racial, ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, and age, so that it accurately reflects the diversity in today’s student population. 

The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) was excited to present a number of sessions and exhibit at the conference to share resources, strategies, and conversations to enhance outreach and support for students with disabilities. 

NCDE Sessions:

  • Equal Opportunities, Unique Experiences: Navigating Identities of Disability, Race, Gender, and Sexuality While Traveling Abroad

Description: Students with disabilities, those identifying as LGBTQIA+, and/or people of color have much to gain from international education and much to contribute. Presenters will describe practices for creating environments that engage those underrepresented in study abroad programs by reflecting on experiences of LGBTQIA+ people of color studying abroad and leading a group of university students with physical and sensory disabilities on a short-term program to Japan. Attendees will be challenged with the question, “how can we, as educators, hold ourselves accountable for educating ourselves and our colleagues on inclusion, oppression, and privilege?”

Presenters: Ashley Holben, NCDE; Dr. Michael Schwartz, Syracuse University; Jacquis Watters, Columbia University

  •  Impact Globally, Strategize Inclusively: Enhancing Access for Students with Disabilities; 

Description: With the commitment that students from all diverse backgrounds, including students with disabilities, should have the same opportunity to study abroad, comes many questions on how to effectively and efficiently plan for inclusion at all stages of a program. Program growth brings a diversity of participants, and the need to plan inclusively. This session will look at how education abroad professionals can build a foundation of support for students with disabilities from recruitment to re-entry to continue the growing trend of students with disabilities accessing international exchange.

Presenters: Monica Malhotra, NCDE; Quinton Redcliffe , CIEE;  Johileny Meran, International Exchange alumnus

Nov 6-8

NCDE Exhibit Booth: Make sure to come visit the NCDE booth and contact us if you will be at the conference or in the area and would like to meet up!

Other Disability-Related Sessions

  • Get Out of My Way! Building Inclusive Study abroad Experiences for Students with Disabilities

Description: Many study abroad professionals don’t fully understand what’s unique about studying abroad with a disability. In turn, they’re left to guess why some students don’t participate, or worse, get in the student’s way. Participants in this session will work through the entire study abroad process from the perspective of a student with a disability by continuously asking, “is our approach student-centered?” Exploring the process and the relationship with campus partners and providers will provide participants with the tools needed to build a culture of inclusion for all students to study abroad at their institution.

Presenters: Andrea Dvorak, Katie Lane, Carden Olson; Augsburg University

  • Designing with Identity in Mind: A Case Study on Two Deaf-centric Programs in Madrid and Cape Town

Description: This session looked at two innovative programs – one from Gallaudet University and the other from California State University – that were both awarded a CIEE Access Grant for their deaf-centric study abroad programs. Currently, providers and universities play a game of “catch up” trying to help a student with a disability go abroad. This is because most programs aren’t designed with these students in mind. This session will explore the inclusive and intentional design approach taken at Gallaudet and California State University to meet the needs of deaf students and provide the same access to cultural exploration and language immersion as their hearing peers. Participants will learn how these two models can be tailored to a variety of programs in order to reach student bodies with similar barriers to access.

Presenters: Becca AbuRakia-Einhorn, Gallaudet University; Emily Hennessy, CIEE; Lissa Stapleton, California State University Northridge

Learn more about CIEE and the Annual Conference highlights


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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.

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