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Welcome to the online A World Awaits You (AWAY) journal, International Students edition, promoting the #Access2USA campaign! The goal of #Access2USA is to increase participation of international students with disabilities studying in the United States, and this AWAY issue introduces you to international students with all types of disabilities who have successfully studied in the United States and want to share the impact of their programs and tips to encourage more students to apply.
Two arched windows let light into a new gathering place in the Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission and its EducationUSA Advising Center. It’s less about the setting and more about what is inside this corner space that matters – new accessible computer stations.
Computers equipped with screen readers and magnifiers, two large monitors, and a desktop magnifier, which will enable students with vision disabilities to have access to test preparation materials and information about U.S. study options.
Alexandra Futty has always been determined to not lead a “small life.” As a senior in high school she raised $10,000 and convinced her parents and Catholic school to allow her take a half year to go on a cultural exchange to India. “I grew up in a small town in Ohio that was very homogenous, very working class, very white, very Christian. And my whole life I have straddled the place between the sighted and non-sighted. I always felt this strong sensation that there was a larger world than what I experienced.”
Alexandra’s explorations continued as a senior in college when she went to Trinidad for two months to do independent research for her undergraduate thesis. After graduation, she spent a year in Trinidad on a Fulbright Student scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
In a village five hours outside of Nairobi, Kenya, with no electricity or running water, Tara Wickey, who has muscular dystrophy, was studying abroad for her graduate degree in Public Service Management at DePaul University. While there, Tara observed the ways in which Kenyans are responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the government and non-governmental levels. “It was difficult and quite a culture shock. It made me appreciate and acknowledge all the developed world comforts I had come to take advantage of.”
When Christie Gilson received an offer to teach at Moravian College in Pennsylvania, she was ready to make the move. “I was not at all intimidated by the thought of pulling up roots and moving far away from home by myself. After all, I had successfully done so in Hong Kong beforehand.”
Because I grew up in a small Greek city where I never socialized with other Deaf people, I never thought there were other people like me. From kindergarten through high school, I attended a mainstream school that didn’t provide support services, nor were teachers aware of Deaf culture and deafness. As a child, I didn’t really realize I was Deaf, despite being born with hearing loss too extensive to use hearing aids. Instead, I considered myself a person with a problem in my ears and difficulty interacting well with hearing people.
Although I was born in a small, rural town in southwestern Japan, growing up I had an interest in foreign affairs. However, my family could not imagine that their son could travel outside of Japan.
When I arrived at Dubai International Airport, I was struck by how cosmopolitan and busy it was, despite the very early morning hour. The women in the airport were covered from head to toe in flowing black robes, and I could see the dark eyes of only a few. Among some of the younger women I encountered, however, I noticed hints of “Western wear” under their traditional dress, including jeans and designer handbags.
It's official: You're well on your way to your U.S. studies. Now is the time to notify the school's disability office about your disability-related needs, search for financial aid, and learn about visa rules and regulations.
Any college or university is a potential match for an international student or scholar with a disability. Learn which factors to consider when browsing institutions, and follow next steps for applying to your dream school.
The United States has thousands of colleges and universities across the country. Each is unique in its own way, but all schools have something in common: they cannot discriminate against anyone due to his or her disability.
U.S. schools are responsible for making their courses, campus, activities and services accessible to people with disabilities. This includes physical access to college buildings, transportation, housing, and other facilities.