When you've just arrived in a foreign country after a long flight, the last thing you want to hear is that there is a glitch with your wheelchair battery. So what do you need to do?
First, know that most countries use electricity at approximately 220 volts/50 hertz, while North America (along with Central America and part of Japan) uses 110 volts/ 60 hertz. If electronic or electrical equipment is used with the wrong voltage, it can be severely damaged, pose a fire or electrocution hazard, or not charge properly.
Adapting mobility equipment you use for a new environment and preparing for potential breakdowns and repairs can go a long way towards ensuring a hassle-free, rewarding international experience.
Traveling internationally with a mobility disability may be smoother by choosing luggage that fits you. Try experimenting before making a new luggage purchase to see what is most comfortable to transport on your own or what is best to protect your equipment when others handle it.
Being carried is an uncomfortable experience for many with disabilities, both physically and emotionally. Lifting a person up stairs or around obstacles is not an acceptable alternative to appropriate accessibility measures. Most people prefer to be lifted only as a last resort.
The slope of a ramp should be no greater than 1:12, which is 12 feet (or meters) of horizontal ramp for every 1 foot (or meter) of vertical height. Some people with disabilities can use personal ramps that are shorter and steeper than 1:12. Before building a short ramp to provide access for a person with a disability, discuss whether a steeper ramp would work for that individual.
Many exchange advisors assume that accommodating people with disabilities in their programs will be prohibitively expensive. In fact, many accommodations are cost-free or quite inexpensive. The key to finding low-cost solutions is to foster open communication with the exchange participant and to think broadly about the possibilities and resources available to the organization and the participant.
No one likes to feel un-informed, especially when having to make arrangements or decisions related to international exchange. Learn now how to be prepared even without knowing who has a disability (or might have their first onset of one overseas).
You can shift from focusing on how to know enough, early enough, to accommodate someone with a disability – why not instead focus on your own ability to put in place good program standards (or verify such standards with those you partner with)? This is more in your control.
Disabled or not, all international travelers have experienced the awkwardness of being different or standing out in a new country. A person with a disability may also experience other cultural attitudes because of their disability.
Such experiences can be confusing, frustrating, or empowering. By their very presence and active participation in your exchange program, people with disabilities can challenge their own and others' perceptions.
Match your best intentions with best practices! Successfully include someone with a disability in your international program.
When a prospective or accepted international exchange participant with a disability contacts you, how can you be a knowledgeable and approachable advisor? We have developed tipsheets you can use to build your capacity for access and inclusion as well as disability assessment forms and guiding questions that you can use to get valuable details from the individual.
While each situation is different, the process is straightforward:
Why Caption Your Video?
In addition to supporting communication access for Deaf and hard of hearing viewers, captions can also benefit hearing people who are watching your video with the sound off or in loud environments, people whose primary language is not the language of your video, and others.
Up to 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound according to multiple publications. All the more reason to ensure your videos are captioned!
People with disabilities are often treated as objects of charity and pity. The charity model is an older and outdated model of disability.
What it looks like: People in your community assume you will always need help and pity you. You are considered a burden requiring charitable resources for support.
People with disabilities do not have a real equal right to participate if they are deemed individually responsible to overcome the barriers and historical ways of doing things that exclude them.
For example, the right of a wheelchair user to enter a building is an empty right if the building only has stairs. The right of a person who is deaf to attend a good university is meaningless if they do not have access to the content of the classes through a sign language interpreter.
Inclusion is not the same as simply “not excluding”. Inclusion is proactive. Inclusion is intentional. It takes some initial investment to ensure that people with disabilities are being reached and participating fully in your organizations and programs.
Whether you want to find personal services, get your equipment repaired, or try adaptive sports, find what you need in your host community.