A formative stay abroad is a period full of challenges for young people; they find themselves in unfamiliar environments experiencing new cultures and languages. It can be even more complicated for students suffering from disabilities who can face bad stereotypes and places out of their reach. Acknowledging these important issues, ESN has developed the ExchangeAbility program with the aim of becoming an accessible organization for those who have a disability, bringing down the obstacles that prevent them to participate in academic exchanges and promoting available opportunities.
The Project raises as a response to the low volume of disabled students participating in mobility programs. According to the European Commission, in 2009/10 only 230 physically challenged students participated in the Erasmus program with a special scholarship. This represents 0.14% of the total of the Erasmus student. Even though the participation rates have risen, they are still exceptionally low.
The goals of the Project are the following:
· To transform ESN in a more accessible organization for disabled students. This means providing the conditions and opportunities needed for a successful interaction and participation between every student.
· To increase the number of disabled students participating in academic exchanges. This is the long-term goal for the program: promoting opportunities and providing support for disabled students who want to participate in exchange programs. What’s more, ESN sections, higher education institutions and organizations leaders in this matter will coordinate creating the best possible conditions for disabled students abroad.