Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

International Day of Persons with Disabilities – December 3rd – is just one of 365 opportunities throughout the year to celebrate the disabled activists, leaders, and advocates around the world!

Leadership is an ongoing journey. Whether you are a well-established and seasoned leader or just starting out in your leadership trajectory, all have the power and potential to effect change. As you plan your next move for professional development, have you considered how you can take your leadership to the next level through international exchange?

International exchange offers opportunities for people of all ages with all types of disabilities to participate in study abroad, volunteer abroad, professional exchanges abroad, global sports exchange programs and more. In this way, disabled people take their rightful place as citizen diplomats of the world.

Many people don’t realize that some international exchange programs include full scholarships or partial scholarships that cover a variety of expenses and disability-related accommodations so that everyone has an opportunity!

Need some real examples of these life-changing opportunities?

MIUSA implements a project called the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) to provide even more free information about how people with disabilities participate in international exchange between the U.S. and other countries. So if this is your dream, we encourage you to contact NCDE by emailing or by visiting us online at to get started.

It’s a dream that was shared by MIUSA CEO Susan Sygall:

“I ride in a wheelchair, and I had a dream many years ago, before I was the leader of MIUSA, to study abroad. I applied for a scholarship which made it possible for me to earn my graduate degree in Australia! Having that experience to learn and study in another country was one of my first actions towards co-founding MIUSA and becoming a global leader. If you have the dream to go abroad, I want to encourage you and other disabled people to contact the NCDE.”

Leaders lift up others.

In addition to growing yourself as a leader, it’s just as important to grow the leadership of other people with disabilities, including women and girls with disabilities, people with disabilities of color, LGBTQ+ people with disabilities, and more. So as you learn about opportunities for international exchange, please get the word out far and wide! Encourage or mentor someone else to apply for a life-changing opportunity – you might be the first voice of encouragement for that person!

Happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and remember to always dream big!

A group of young travelers move through an old district of Spain surrounded by arches of white stone. The travelers push themselves in wheelchairs or walk. Backs turned.


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.

Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

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