International Student Orientations & Disability Access

Graphic with text that reads: International Student Orientations: Access and Inclusion for Students with Disabilities
How can international student orientation programming, design, and curriculum be made accessible to students with disabilities and incorporate a disability rights lens? In this four-part webinar series, presenters with disabilities sharing their personal and/or professional experiences and recommendations.

Each presentation is captioned in English and interpreted in American Sign Language/English. Find the transcript containing all four parts as a Word Document you may download on this page.

Webinar Descriptions and YouTube Links

Part 1: MIUSA's Prep Programs | Jessica Bansen (Mobility International USA) describes the structure of MIUSA's preparatory workshops for FLEX, YES, and YEAR sponsored international exchange students with disabilities at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Watch on YouTube.

Part 2: Universal Design | Zeynep Yilmaz (University of Arizona) provides examples of how to incorporate principles of Universal Design into your international student orientations and more. Watch on YouTube.

Part 3: A Student Perspective | Justice Chukwu (Disability Rights Oregon) reflects on the information that he, as a former international student, would have liked to have had as a graduate student with a disability. Watch on YouTube.

Part 4: Deaf Access | Gregoire Youbara (Gallaudet University) reflects on some of the unique aspects of a Pre-Institute for Deaf Mandela Washington Fellows which may be useful to other higher education professionals for planning international student orientations. Watch on YouTube.

Presenter Bios

Jessica Bansen

As a Program Specialist at MIUSA, Jessica Bansen works with Youth Exchange Programs on outreach to and inclusion of youth with disabilities.  Jessica has planned and led both virtual and in-person orientations for high school and college exchange students with diverse disabilities.  During MIUSA orientations, students with disabilities learn about the movement for disability rights in the U.S., what to expect as a student with a disability in the U.S. and what will be expected of them and how to be a self-advocate.  Students also participate in community activities such as volunteering in a community garden, visiting an inclusive and accessible park and completing a challenge course.

Zeynep Yilmaz

Zeynep Yilmaz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at the University of Arizona, working on her dissertation. Prior to starting her Ph.D. degree, she worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Oklahoma City. In 2014, she received her master’s degree in rehabilitation psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Zeynep strongly believes that her journey to the United States, living independently in three different cities, involvement in many disability advocacy organizations, having a variety of professional experiences, and studying at two leading universities has fostered a great deal of professional and personal growth for her.   She also has encountered many difficulties as a blind international student from Turkey that kindled a great passion to not only advocate for international students with disabilities but also educate professionals working with the international student community. In her different roles as a counselor, program coordinator, teaching assistant, and counselor intern, Zeynep has always had a strong desire to create equal and equitable opportunities for people with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of life in the Community. Zeynep's presentation was developed as part of her project for NCDE's Access to Exchange externship, which was a two-part webinar for student services and disability office personnel to make student orientation programs more inclusive and accessible for international students with disabilities. International student orientations are one of the most common ways to facilitate a successful transition for international students. However, general international student orientation programs often do not provide necessary resources and specific information for disabled international students’ unique needs. Lack of knowledge related to who is considered disabled, rights under disability laws, both campus and community resources, and how accommodations work among international students may result in the underutilization of available services. Zeynep encourages international education professionals to share her presentation internally or widely as part of staff training and professional development!

Justice Chukwu

Justice Chukwu is a Crime Survivor Advocate at the Disability Rights Oregon. He helps people with disabilities who’ve experienced crime to seek and find justice.

While serving the Nigeria Association of the Blind, Justice worked with the Justice4All to foster the realization of an egalitarian society. Justice was also actively involved in the Economic Community of West African States as well as United Nations efforts in West Africa. But his passion for international law, minority rights, and peacebuilding eventually beckoned him to the United States of America. 

After receiving a fellowship from the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame in 2019, Justice enrolled in the International Peace Studies program, where he had a lot to fight as a blind international student, and finally conquered. As part of his punctilious nature, demeanor, and experience, Justice’s advocacy for equity and inclusion in schools, including student mentorship has always been unflinching.