Ask any exchange professional about the changing face of international exchange – they will tell you that it seems like more and more participants with non-apparent disabilities are going abroad. But why and what does this mean?
In our issue of the A World Awaits You (AWAY) Journal, read firsthand accounts and learn the resources that can guide you in embracing the changing times.
Today, equal access to college for many U.S. students with disabilities is more the norm. They advanced through their K-12 education with accommodations and services that prepared them better for university life.
Other social changes are also impacting the understanding and reducing the stigma of people with disabilities both in the U.S. and globally. Emergence of disability advocacy groups increase self-awareness and may lead to more disclosure on exchange programs.
This generation of leaders with disabilities is being raised with equal opportunities before them – having international experiences gives them skills needed for the future.
By the numbers, exchange participants with disabilities will still be a minority, but their impact on diversity will make international educators rethink how they are designing their programs to be more inclusive.
If exchange programs were to put in place program components in a flexible, broad-reaching way then they would be better prepared to welcome diverse participants and individual arrangements would fall quicker into place. People with and without disabilities can find these built-in options useful.
Having an increase in people with mental health or other non-apparent disabilities on international exchange programs doesn’t mean programs have to do something extra. It is just the impetus to prioritize what they should have been getting into place for all participants on the program already. Good health, safety, support, and risk management is good planning for all.
Access our issue of the A World Awaits You (AWAY) Journal to learn more.
Our goal is to empower people with disabilities to take advantage of the same international exchange opportunities as everyone else, navigating any access barriers along the way. For two decades, our free services and resources have been made possible by the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, a project sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and administered by Mobility International USA.