A formative stay abroad is a period full of challenges for young people, since they find themselves with an unfamiliar environment, a new language and a new culture, for example. Additionally, it can be even more challenging for students with disabilities who may encounter inaccessible environments or face popular stereotypes. In recognition of these important challenges, ESN has developed the ExchangeAbility program to make our organization an accessible and inclusive network for students with disabilities, help remove obstacles to participation in academic exchanges, and promote available opportunities.
The project also arises as a consequence of the current figures of student mobility in the population with disabilities. According to data from the European Commission, in 2009/10 only 230 students with special needs participated in the Erasmus program with a special scholarship. This represents 0.14% of all Erasmus students. Although the figures have been progressively improving, the data is exceptionally low.
Objectives of the project
The objectives of the project can be summarized as follows:
Convert ESN into a more accessible association for disabled students in all activities. This means that ESN wants to provide the necessary conditions and opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in local sections in contact with international students.
Increase the number of students with disabilities participating in academic exchanges. This is the long-term vision of the project: promoting the opportunities and support necessary for students with disabilities to study abroad. Furthermore, ESN works with its sections, higher education institutions and expert organizations on the subject to create the best possible conditions for students with disabilities abroad.
In relation to this project, ESN Spain and the ONCE foundation, based on their collaboration agreement, hold talks and conferences every year with information to access the different mobility opportunities for people with disabilities at different universities in Spain.
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