IIE Networker - Fall 2005 - (Page 52)

Knowledge Network Students with Disability How Are We Doing? A Survey On Students with Disabilities in Study Abroad By Michele Scheib Online surveys conducted by IIE and the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange reveal that progress is being made and that growing numbers of disabled U.S. students are studying abroad. But the number of disabled study abroad participants still lags behind the overall percentage of disabled students in U.S. colleges and universities. “To go abroad, to be away for so long without having my backup system with me, it allowed me to realize that I can certainly do more things than I had thought . . . For career purposes, [my study abroad experience] gave me a tremendous boost. Anything that makes me more confident with employers and in whatever endeavor I may undertake is always a plus.” This student, who uses a wheelchair and personal assistant, recently landed a well-paid position in international business. She studied abroad in Spain in 2001, with the support of program providers and a host country resident director, who made appropriate arrangements. How many other students with disabilities gained the boost that study abroad can give to their self-confidence and career? In 2004, the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (managed by Mobility International USA and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State) collaborated to conduct an online snapshot survey of U.S. education abroad staff regarding inclusion of students with disabilities. Sixty-nine institutions responded to the survey—one more respondent compared to a similar survey conducted by IIE and the Clearinghouse in 1998. These institutions send between 9 and 10 percent of all reported study abroad participants abroad each year. According to the 2004 survey findings, 3 percent of study abroad participants in 2003-4 were students with disabilities. This represents an increase from the 1998 survey, in which less than 1 percent of study abroad students were reported to have disabilities. One respondent, who is a third-party provider, accounted for the largest number of students with disabilities studying abroad. In the 1998 survey, individuals with learning, attention or psychiatric disabilities made up slightly less than half of students with disabilities sent abroad. In the 2004 survey, 80 percent of students with disabilities studying abroad were individuals with these types of disabilities. About 9 percent of the students with disabilities had mobility or sensory impairments and another 9 percent had health-related disabilities. The 2004 survey results convey both good news and bad news. The good news is that 505 students with disabilities are now better prepared for the challenges of an increasingly interdependent world. One of those students may be a future U.S. ambassador. The bad news is only 505 of the thousands of qualified, eager and interested students with disabilities at these responding institutions actually studied abroad. One of those students might also have had that same world-transforming potential. The good news is that growing numbers of colleges and universities are gaining experience working with students with disabilities, and those schools will be more prepared when the next student with a disability comes through the door expressing an interest in study abroad. In 1998, two-thirds of the responding schools sent no students with disabilities abroad, compared to only one-third in 2004. The bad news is that only three institutions (one private doctoral/ research university and two associate’s degree colleges) reported that the participation of students with disabilities in their international programs reflects a comparable percentage of students with disabilities in the general campus population, which is typically estimated to be about 9 percent. Even with the bad news, the survey offers hope. By offering rare data on participation of people with disabilities in education abroad, the snapshot survey is

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2005

IIE Networker - Fall 2005
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
Study Abroad for Students of Color
Programmatic Diversity Versus Unplanned Information Flows
Nurturing Leadership and Social Change: The Mission of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program
Study Abroad
Study Abroad
Science and Engineering
Students with Disability
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Fall 2005