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  1. Advising Students with Learning Disabilities or ADHD in Study Abroad Kathy Schwartz, Academic Support Center American University Ashley Bryant Mobility International USA

  2. Agenda • Brief Introduction • AU context • Global context • Student experience • Available Resources • Best practices and large group discussion (throughout)

  3. What are your experiences supporting students with learning disabilities in going abroad? • Ongoing challenges • Reaching the student

  4. How can education abroad benefit students with learning disabilities in particular?

  5. *National Survey on Student Engagement 2010 online survey of first-year and senior students in the U.S.

  6. Study Respondents with Learning Disabilities (Total = 699 senior study abroad respondents) • 2% of all seniors studying abroad in the NSSE survey • 3% are military veterans • 7% part-time status • 12% had a mother & 16% a father who did not attend college *National Survey on Student Engagement 2010 online survey of first-year and senior students in the U.S.

  7. Study Respondents with Learning Disabilities (Total = 699 senior study abroad respondents) • 36% Arts/Humanities & 31% Social Sciences majors (Primary and secondary majors combined) • 74% White, 4% Multiracial, Less 4% in rest of categories or did not respond • 69% Female Students, 31% Male Students • 70% have completed foreign language course • 82% have 3.0 GPA or higher *National Survey on Student Engagement 2010 online survey of first-year and senior students in the U.S.

  8. Students with Learning Disabilities on the AU Campus

  9. Poster in AU’s Disability Support Office

  10. Survey Sent to Resident Directors

  11. Letter of Accommodation

  12. AU’s Study Abroad Web Site

  13. AU’s Disability Support Web Site “If you are interested in studying abroad, please check out this special page discussing Accessibility and Studying Abroad.” Learn More

  14. Increase in American University’s annual participation 2003-2008

  15. When it Works… In advance of study abroad: • Student meets with disability support counselor at least one semester before applying to study abroad • If accommodations are significant or resources may be limited, student sends an e-mail to program director abroad with questions before applying

  16. When it Works… Once accepted into a program: • Student requests two copies of a study abroad letter of accommodation from disability support • Medications and treatment are arranged

  17. When it Works… When the student is overseas: • Student makes contact with the person who can assist with accommodations • Student finds out how accommodations will be arranged and how faculty will be notified • Student contacts the disability support staff at home if problems arise

  18. Best Outcomes • There are far fewer concerns about accommodations if students identify prior to departure • Communication about accommodations is enhanced by administrative contact between U.S. institution and program abroad • Students report increased ease of arrangements for accommodations

  19. Student Voices “My program director helped me talk with my professors and set up extra time and accommodations. She was wonderful!”

  20. Student Voices “Since the program was small (less than 40 students), I felt uncomfortable with the note taking set-up and test accommodations. It was definitely noticeable that I was absent from a test. I did not mind it, but I did explain to close friends why.”

  21. Student Voices “The note taking went great. One woman took all the notes since we all took the same classes, and photocopied them for me.”

  22. Student Voices “I wish I had talked with someone before going. I was unprepared for when I got there.”

  23. Students with Learning Disabilities on Your Campus

  24. Collaboration between disability support and study abroad • Legal issues – are we responsible for accommodations overseas? • How do accommodations vary across countries and regions? • Does the U.S. school have a system for student self-identification and request for accommodations?

  25. Collaboration between disability support and study abroad • Address the difference in nature and philosophy of disability support vs. study abroad advising • How do programs work with students who do not self-identify?

  26. Goals for Effective Collaboration • To establish a comfortable working relationship between DSS and study abroad personnel • To serve the same percentage of students with disabilities abroad as are represented at the university

  27. Goals for Effective Collaboration • To advise students at the pre-application and pre-departure stage • To develop materials and online systems that make self-identification easy

  28. Learning Disabilities or ADHD • Accommodations overseas are not guaranteed • Typical accommodations for learning disabilities or ADHD • Doctor’s note for ADHD medication

  29. Where to Start? • Are there baseline data on the number of students with learning disabilities studying abroad? • Do you know what accommodations are possible at each site? • Are you clear on what you need/want to provide for students overseas?

  30. Where to Start? • Is collaboration established between DSS and study abroad? • Is there a process for working with students with disabilities?

  31. Preparing for Accommodation Differences • Understand the partners overseas may not be informed about disability resources in their countries • Find out about local disability organizations • Explain that everyone is up for a different level of challenge • Get the overseas partners to describe the local site specifically • Include the individual with the disability in all “what if” discussions and accessibility planning

  32. What DSS Providers are Asking • What kinds of disability resources or associations can provide local support when the student is abroad? • Are e-text or screen readers appropriate for a foreign language text book? • Can the student bring his or her ADHD medication abroad?

  33. Learning Disabilities and ADHD in Other Countries • May not be recognized or understood • The term “learning disability” may refer to something different than what we’re used to (such as intellectual disability)

  34. Learning Disabilities and ADHD in Other Countries • Different learning styles in other parts of the world (focus on rote memorization, note taking, reading, little direction on assignments) • Documentation/asking for accommodations

  35. Benefits of Education Abroad • Alternative ways to learn, subjects come to life • Learn how disability is perceived in other countries • Strengthen personal or learning skills

  36. Benefits of Education Abroad “I learn best when I feel like what I am learning can be applied to real life. For me, nothing is more real or tangible than serving others in another country.” – Tony Ive, who volunteered at an orphanage in Ecuador on a service trip throught he University of Idaho. Tony has Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and ADHD

  37. Benefits of Education Abroad • Alternative ways to learn, subjects come to life • Learn how disability is perceived in other countries • Strengthen personal or learning skills

  38. Benefits of Education Abroad “In the Latin American countries I went to, learning disabilities are just not dealt with like they are in the U.S. unless the programs set accommodations up outside the school or have someone in-country to assist students.” - Kristin Faudree, a former graduate student who has dyslexia

  39. Benefits of Education Abroad • Alternative ways to learn, subjects come to life • Learn how disability is perceived in other countries • Use or improve personal or learning skills and develop confidence

  40. Benefits of Education Abroad “For me, the exchange was the first time being an outsider was rewarded. My differences weren’t just tolerated, they were explored. Cultural exchanges bring out a common humanity in everyone. For me, the trip taught me to accept parts of myself that I’d been trying to hide for far too long.” – Zeke Nierenberg, a student who has neurological disabilities that affect learning

  41. Benefits of Education Abroad “I was nervous because I have dysgraphia, a handwriting disability. But for some reason I had less problems writing the Japanese letters. For example, I have a harder time writing little angles such as in an ‘A’, but in Japanese the straight line can be a little curved and that’s alright. That was really cool that for the first time in my life I could write legibly in a language.” - Jonathon Kull, who studied in Japan

  42. Going Abroad with a Non-Apparent Disability: A Student’s Perspective

  43. Funding Strategies • Commit 1% of budgets for disability-related study abroad expenses • Agree to equal the amount of money as if the student were on campus • Share costs with other universities or sending provider • Look into VR funding or cost-savings abroad

  44. Resources • NCDE miusa.org/ncde • Tipsheet miusa.org/ncde/tools/ldexchange • Disability organizations in other parts of the world miusa.org/orgsearch • Publication miusa.org/ncde/away/

  45. What is the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE)? • Provides information and referrals to increase the participation and inclusion of people with disabilities in international exchange • Develops free resources, extensive website, and wide range of technical assistance. • Efforts to encourage collaboration between the disability and international exchange communities. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

  46. Contact Us! Kathy Schwartz, Academic Support Center American University kschwar@american.edu Ashley Bryant Mobility International USA abryant@miusa.org