Areas of Study

A study into best practices for providing access to college students who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing and participating in education abroad has been selected by the U.S. Department of State for funding.

The grant proposal by Office of International Affairs Executive Director Charles Reilly and Education Abroad Coordinator Becca Aburakia-Einhorn was one of 21 selected for funding from 121 proposals by the department’s USA Study Abroad branch.

More than 1 million U.S. higher education scholars studied abroad during the 2016-2017 academic year. Such experiences are becoming a requirement for certain majors or programs and a career booster in others, making it essential that these opportunities be accessible to all.

Yet it is not clear to what extent the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to U.S. students who study abroad through partnerships between American colleges and universities and international providers. Currently, many such programs require blind students to pay for their own personal assistants and deaf students to pay for their own interpreters, making education abroad inaccessible for many and creating inequality.

Dr. Reilly and Aburakia-Einhorn’s project, funded for $34,515, will help bring “best-in-class” thinking about inclusive education abroad to the attention of American universities and resource centers, and beyond. With the knowledge gleaned through the study, colleges and universities will be better able to make global learning a part of more students’ college experience.

Grant winners were announced at the NAFSA: Association of International Educators 2019 Annual Conference and Expo on May 28 in Washington, D.C., the biggest international education conference in the world.

Funding for the project, SECAGD-18CA0068, “An Interactive Guide to Accessible Education Abroad for Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing College Students,” comes from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as part of the Capacity Building for U.S. Study Abroad Program initiative. The total award given to World Learning for all grantees, $1,797,900, is 100 percent federally funded.

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