Going to study abroad for a period of time is a challenging time for young people, as they are facing an unfamiliar environment, a new language and culture to name but a few things. In addition, it can be more even more difficult for students with disabilities who may face inaccessible environments or disability-related stereotypes. As recognition of such challenges, ESN developed the ExchangeAbility project to make our organisation accessible for students with disabilities, to help remove obstacles to participation in exchange and promote the opportunities available.

 

The ExchangeAbility project was also initiated due to a recognition of the current situation regarding the mobility of students with disabilities. According to the data from the European Commission, during the academic year 2009/10 230 students with special needs receiving a supplementary grant participated in Erasmus for study. This represents 0.14 % of all Erasmus students. Although an increase compared to the previous years has been observed, the number is still exceptionally low.

 

Aims of the project

The project has dual aims that can be summarised as:

 

  • Making ESN a more accessible association for disabled students at all the levels of its activities. This means that ESN wants to provide the conditions and opportunities for the disabled students to actively be involved in the work with international students and therefore to benefit from the exchange programmes at their home universities.
  • Increasing the number of students with disabilities going on exchange. The  long-term vision of the project is to promote the opportunities and support offered for students with disabilities to study abroad.   Also, ExchangeAbility works with ESN sections, HEIs and organisations that are experts in the field to  create the best conditions possible for disabled students during their stay abroad.

 

MappED!

The goal of the MappED! project is to provide equal opportunities to students with disabilities for their participation in the Erasmus+ Programme, providign them with the necessary tools to be better informed about their rights, procedures and support services they are entitled to.

The Erasmus+ Programme is a great opportunity for personal development, gaining new skills, learning a new language and increasing employability. MappED! aims at reducing the disparities in learning outcomes affecting disadvantaged learners through increasing the number of students with disabilities participating in the Erasmus+ Programme. It provides students with information on the accessibility not only of university facilities, but also many other places and services.

 

Useful Information and websites

For more information about the opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in the ERASMUS programme and other useful information please check out the following websites:

ESN ExchangeAbility Project

European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education

LINK- Learning Inclusively Network + Know-how

MappED! official website