Students with disabilities are among those diverse groups of students who continue to be either underrepresented or underserved in education abroad, while at the same time data from the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) most recent Open Doors Survey indicate an increase in their numbers compared to previous years. In response to these trends, several institutions, organizations, and individuals are taking innovative approaches to championing disability inclusion, recognizing and valuing disability as part of diversity.
During the Forum on Education Abroad annual conference in Seattle on Thursday, March 30, 2017, international exchange professionals and international exchange alumni with disabilities presented the session “Championing Inclusion: Paving the Way for Students with Disabilities Abroad.” Speakers elaborated on efforts to advance overseas opportunities for students with disabilities at the leadershi plevel and shared innovative approaches to breaking down everyday barriers. They included:
- Ashley Holben, Mobility International USA (MIUSA)
- Gina Lopardo, Seattle University
- Alex Stone, recent graduate of the School for International Training (SIT)
- Anna Pickett, recent graduate of Seattle University
MIUSA also hosted an evening Meetup inviting conference attendees and locals in the Seattle area who are passionate about disability rights and access to international exchange.
Other 2017 Forum workshops and sessions related to disability included:
Workshop: Attitude and Access in Study Abroad
Presented by Juanita Lillie (Abroad with Disabilities); Shun Yanagishita (School for International Training)
Creating Access and Inclusivity for Students on the Autism Spectrum Before, During and After Their Short-Term Study Abroad Experience
Presented by Peg Alden (Landmark College); Andy Donahue (Landmark College)
Mental Health Strategies for Study Abroad: Prevention, Early Intervention and Response
Presented by Bill Frederick (Lodestone Safety International); Gary Robinson (P3 Mental Health Advisors, LLC)