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Shaping and Shifting 
Cultural Perceptions of 
Disability Abroad 
Chair: Ashley Holben, 
Mobility International USA 
(MIUS...
1 
Culture Matters!
2
3
4
5
Diverse Cultural Views on Disability 
6
Can Traveling with a Disability Challenge Perceptions? 
“People with disabilities in 
that community [in rural 
Ecuador] o...
Different Culture, Different Attitudes 
• Isn't the customer always right? 
• Overprotectiveness 
• Unwillingness to accom...
Remind Your Students… 
• ALL travelers experience 
awkwardness 
• Potential to challenge 
perceptions 
• Opportunity to gr...
Adjusting to a New Place 
How might other aspects of culture have an impact on a 
student with a disability? 
• Time and p...
“I was very comfortable [in 
Japan] – for some reason, the 
cultural structure is less 
intimidating. You know what is 
ex...
Create a Culture of Inclusion! 
• Partner agreements 
• Dispel negative assumptions 
• Seek out champions of inclusion 
• ...
Services and Resources from MIUSA 
13 
• Free advising 
•Website 
• E-news 
• Publications 
•Webinars and events 
Sponsore...
Visit www.miusa.org for… 
14 
• Tips for traveling with a disability 
• Resources for students & professionals 
• Traveler...
Popular Resources for Advisors & Intl. Educators 
15 
• Showing Respect by Being Direct 
• Accommodations Assessment Forms...
Resources and Stories Specific To… 
16 
• Autism Spectrum 
• Blind & Low Vision 
• Chronic Health Conditions 
• Deaf & Har...
Build on Your Knowledge! 
Session: “Incorporating Universal Design Concepts Into 
Study Abroad” – Today @ 3:45 pm in Salon...
Committing to Inclusion 
CIEE pledges 25 full scholarships for 
students with disabilities in 2015! 
18 
Why 25?
Thrice in Japan 
CIEE Alumnus Mark Bookman Shares His Story 
19
A Brief History of “Barrier-Free” in Japan 
• Late 1980s: The term “Barrier-Free” becomes a popular 
term. [1] 
• 2009: 3....
Barrier Free vs. Americans with Disabilities Act 
Fundamental Law for Disabled 
Persons 
Americans with Disabilities Act 
...
“Barrier-Free” Translation from Theory to Praxis 
22 
Ideological and legal differences between Japan and 
U.S. 
Lead to: ...
Permanent vs. Temporary Residence 
• Differences in assistive devices across cultures 
• Accessible housing is difficult t...
An Overview of My Experiences 
I have studied in Japan on three separate occasions with 
three distinct levels of severity...
Waseda University (2008) 
• Same opportunity to 
experience Japan as any 
other study abroad student 
(albeit at a slower ...
Yes, you CAN! 
Tokyo Study Center 
26
PHASES 
1. Preparation 電動式車椅子 
2. Arrival & orientation 電動車椅子 
3. Semester 車椅子Mark 
4. Aftermath Mark Fulbright Fellow 
27
PREPARATION 
1. March 5, 2012 – General Inquiry 
2. Accommodation search, general research, 
discussions, lists, and more ...
??????????????? 
• Questions to ask (First Skype conversation 12/21/12) 
• Height when seated in his power chair? 
• Power...
??????????????? 
• More Questions to ask 
• Hiring another Sophia student to do his laundry/ provide 
help if needed/ push...
POWER CHAIR 
• Width – 25.5 in/ 65 cm 
• Length – 42.9 in/ 109 cm 
•Weight – 260 lbs/ 118 kg 
• Chair is rather “spider-li...
DORMITORY 
32
DORM ROOM 
33
ARRIVAL & ORIENTATION 
34
MODIFIED SCHEDULE (1) 
• Started with full student schedule 
• Then modified for Mark 
35 
Day Date Time Place Event Items...
ORIENTATION 
36 
Modified Orientation 
Schedule 
With other students as 
much as possible
37 
MODIFIED SCHEDULE (2) 
Date Time Place Events/Sessions Breakfast Lunch Dinner 
Mar 27 Wed 
14:00 - 18:00 Narita Int'l ...
SETTLING IN 
38
KAMAKURA 
39
SPRING SEMESTER 
Challenges VS. 
• Attitudes 
• Physical barriers 
• Lack of experience 
• Assumptions/ 
misunderstandings...
BULLET TRAIN and HIRODEN 
41 
Regular 
Public 
Transportation
HIROSHIMA 
42
DEPARTURE DAY 
43
AFTERMATH 
• Confidence in assisting students with disabilities 
if/when needed 
• Knowledge of disabilities in Japan, esp...
A NEW ADVENTURE! 
45
WHAT WE LEARNED 
• Academic accommodations / learning disabilities-relatively 
new fields in Japan 
• Clarify and specify ...
Sophia University (2013) 
• For the first time, I became 
very aware of the 
inaccessibility of many 
buildings in Japan 
...
Toyo University (2014) 
• Accessibility was a challenge 
not just outside the home, 
but inside as well, especially: 
• 玄関...
Access Abroad: General Considerations 
1. Access to Academic Facilities 
2. Access to Specialty Medical Facilities 
3. Acc...
Accommodation 
• ‘Accommodation’ occurs in the liminal space between the 
disabled individuals’ psyche, their physical cap...
Global Conceptions of Disability: Bane or Boon? 
Above all, the study abroad 
program should do all they can to 
promote d...
Bibliography 
1. http://www.japantoday.com/category/executive-impact/ 
view/building-a-barrier-free-society 
2. http://www...
THANK YOU! 
Questions for us? 
53 
Ashley Holben 
Project Coordinator, Mobility International USA 
aholben@miusa.org 
Dr. ...
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Shaping and Shifting Cultural Perceptions of Disability Abroad

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People with disabilities studying abroad can expect to encounter cultural attitudes that vary from country to country. In what ways can travelers with disabilities plan for, adjust to, and even shape attitudes? How might international exchange professionals help move attitudes toward the positive through longstanding relationships with overseas partners? This session will showcase CIEE alumni with disabilities and resident directors (RD) from recent programs with a focus on cultural differences related to disability that may impact the attitudes of the host community, exchange staff, and students with disabilities.

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Shaping and Shifting Cultural Perceptions of Disability Abroad

  1. 1. Shaping and Shifting Cultural Perceptions of Disability Abroad Chair: Ashley Holben, Mobility International USA (MIUSA) Presenters: Mark Bookman, CIEE Alumnus; Dr. Kirsten Jensen, CIEE 0
  2. 2. 1 Culture Matters!
  3. 3. 2
  4. 4. 3
  5. 5. 4
  6. 6. 5
  7. 7. Diverse Cultural Views on Disability 6
  8. 8. Can Traveling with a Disability Challenge Perceptions? “People with disabilities in that community [in rural Ecuador] often stay at home, but here was this person, getting his health needs met while out experiencing the world. It really changed their mindset. That, to me, is citizen diplomacy.” – Global Citizens Network director Linda Stuart 7 “ ”
  9. 9. Different Culture, Different Attitudes • Isn't the customer always right? • Overprotectiveness • Unwillingness to accommodate • Recognizing legitimacy of disability • Intrusive staring or questions • Unsolicited help • Emphasizing other identities • Expectations of independence 8
  10. 10. Remind Your Students… • ALL travelers experience awkwardness • Potential to challenge perceptions • Opportunity to grow • Cultural connections create meaning • Be open to positive experiences • Safety comes first – offer support services 9
  11. 11. Adjusting to a New Place How might other aspects of culture have an impact on a student with a disability? • Time and punctuality • Different place, different pace! • Leisure and schedules • Siestas/resting, lingering meals and conversations • Body language • Eye contact • Rituals and Routines 10
  12. 12. “I was very comfortable [in Japan] – for some reason, the cultural structure is less intimidating. You know what is expected of you in Japan. It’s a more ritualistic society, and people with autism can be ritualistic. I knew the basic culture was family-oriented, so I could follow their structure.” - Ted Koehler, U.S. student to Japan 11 “ ”
  13. 13. Create a Culture of Inclusion! • Partner agreements • Dispel negative assumptions • Seek out champions of inclusion • Leverage culture values What have you found to be effective cross-culturally? 12
  14. 14. Services and Resources from MIUSA 13 • Free advising •Website • E-news • Publications •Webinars and events Sponsored by: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  15. 15. Visit www.miusa.org for… 14 • Tips for traveling with a disability • Resources for students & professionals • Traveler stories • E-newsletter sign-up
  16. 16. Popular Resources for Advisors & Intl. Educators 15 • Showing Respect by Being Direct • Accommodations Assessment Forms & Guidelines  Accessibility Assumptions  When Can We Ask for Disability Information?
  17. 17. Resources and Stories Specific To… 16 • Autism Spectrum • Blind & Low Vision • Chronic Health Conditions • Deaf & Hard of Hearing • Learning Disabilities • Mental Health Conditions • Physical Disabilities Add to our resources: Share your travel tips and stories!
  18. 18. Build on Your Knowledge! Session: “Incorporating Universal Design Concepts Into Study Abroad” – Today @ 3:45 pm in Salon I & II Session: “Technological Barriers & Moving Towards Fully Accessible Website & Materials” – Tomorrow @ 10:15 am IIE Generation Study Abroad Webinar: “Disability- Inclusion Best Practices and National Trends” - December 2 @ 3:00 pm Eastern - ow.ly/EDmJg MIUSA E-news: Updates on future trainings & webinars 17
  19. 19. Committing to Inclusion CIEE pledges 25 full scholarships for students with disabilities in 2015! 18 Why 25?
  20. 20. Thrice in Japan CIEE Alumnus Mark Bookman Shares His Story 19
  21. 21. A Brief History of “Barrier-Free” in Japan • Late 1980s: The term “Barrier-Free” becomes a popular term. [1] • 2009: 3.6 million people estimated to have a physical disability. [2] • 1993: Fundamental Law for Disabled Persons sets in motion measures to advance Barrier-Free Agenda, including: • 1996: Action Plan for Priority Areas • 2003: Basic Plan for Persons with Disability [3] 20
  22. 22. Barrier Free vs. Americans with Disabilities Act Fundamental Law for Disabled Persons Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Est. 1993 Est. 1990 • Establishes fundamental principles and measures for disabled persons • Designates public responsibilities • Promotes the independence and full participation of disabled persons [4] • Ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in areas such as employment, government services, and transportation. • Guaranteeing public and commercial facilities as being accessible • Prohibits discrimination [5] 21
  23. 23. “Barrier-Free” Translation from Theory to Praxis 22 Ideological and legal differences between Japan and U.S. Lead to: Differences in terms of private resource allocation Gap in adequate care coverage for many PWDs Foreign students face a particular challenge. Why? Consider the following…
  24. 24. Permanent vs. Temporary Residence • Differences in assistive devices across cultures • Accessible housing is difficult to locate, often requires long-term contract and increased security deposit • Long-term residents with disabilities outfit their living spaces to meet their unique needs, an expensive and time-consuming process • No one may apply for “介護” (Kaigo), or Care Services until after at least one year of living in Japan 23
  25. 25. An Overview of My Experiences I have studied in Japan on three separate occasions with three distinct levels of severity in disability: • 1) Waseda University: For 2 months during the summer of 2008. I walked with a limp and did not require the use of a wheelchair. • 2) Sophia University: For 5 months during the spring of 2013. I used a wheelchair but could stand independently. • 3) Toyo University: For 10 months starting in September 2014. I use a wheelchair and am unable to stand independently. 24
  26. 26. Waseda University (2008) • Same opportunity to experience Japan as any other study abroad student (albeit at a slower pace) • I was often able to scale staircases to access those places otherwise inaccessible to me 25
  27. 27. Yes, you CAN! Tokyo Study Center 26
  28. 28. PHASES 1. Preparation 電動式車椅子 2. Arrival & orientation 電動車椅子 3. Semester 車椅子Mark 4. Aftermath Mark Fulbright Fellow 27
  29. 29. PREPARATION 1. March 5, 2012 – General Inquiry 2. Accommodation search, general research, discussions, lists, and more lists 3. Sept 18, 2012 - reserved dorm room through Sophia 4. October 3 - received preliminary information 28
  30. 30. ??????????????? • Questions to ask (First Skype conversation 12/21/12) • Height when seated in his power chair? • Power-charging voltage needed? 2 or 3-pronged plug? • Do feet extend beyond the chair when seated? What is the length including feet? • When could he move into the dorm? • Length of contract? 29
  31. 31. ??????????????? • More Questions to ask • Hiring another Sophia student to do his laundry/ provide help if needed/ push when using manual wheelchair? • Dimensions of manual chair? • Will airlines transport one chair free? If not, get estimates of cost. • Also for second chair. Bettter to hire in Japan? • (4 typed pages of Questions & A) 30
  32. 32. POWER CHAIR • Width – 25.5 in/ 65 cm • Length – 42.9 in/ 109 cm •Weight – 260 lbs/ 118 kg • Chair is rather “spider-like” with 2 center wheels for torque, as well as a pair of front and back wheels, like training wheels – turns “on a dime” – long and narrow compared with regular, manual wheelchairs – has one joystick hand control, so Mark uses an umbrella in rainy weather. 31
  33. 33. DORMITORY 32
  34. 34. DORM ROOM 33
  35. 35. ARRIVAL & ORIENTATION 34
  36. 36. MODIFIED SCHEDULE (1) • Started with full student schedule • Then modified for Mark 35 Day Date Time Place Event Items Remarks Wed 3/20/1 3 16:50 NRT Mark Bookman's arrival Arriving at 16:50 with DL173 (Delta Air Lines) at Terminal 1 North Dr. Kirsten Jensen meet MB (and the van driver) Ship luggage to Edagawa dorm so it will be delivered by 3/22. Driver: (Asami-san, 090-1540-3418) will meet KJ at Terminal 1 (”ハイヤー” 車種:ハイエーストヨタグラ ンドキャビン) Inform him of SoftBank prepaid phone c. 19:00 Mitsui Garden Hotel Check-in Help unpack Thu 3/21/1 3 Mitsui Garden Hotel MB Breakfast at hotel restaurant (1F Salvatore Cuomo) Entrance from hotel lobby is flat but vould be difficult to turn corners. Hotel staff will help this and getting food from buffet table as well. 10:00 Hotel Lobby Darren Biggs (CIEE student assistant) meet MB to escourt to Study Center 10:30 - 12:00 Study Center MB: SoftBank prepaid phone purchase (Staff can fill out the form for him. MB to pay 6,000 yen) Orientation with Dr. Jensen and Hiroko Watanabe MB Passport copy 12:00 - 14:00 Lunch (Go back to hotel if wish) Lunch stipend 14:30 - 16:00 Sophia Offices MB Meeting with relevant Sophia offices (Academics, Student Affairs, FLA, ISO, Health Center, etc.) National Holiday
  37. 37. ORIENTATION 36 Modified Orientation Schedule With other students as much as possible
  38. 38. 37 MODIFIED SCHEDULE (2) Date Time Place Events/Sessions Breakfast Lunch Dinner Mar 27 Wed 14:00 - 18:00 Narita Int'l Airport Arrival Day Welcome to Japan! n/a Stipend Stay at Narita Tobu Hotel 【Address: Narita Tobu Hotel, 320-1 Tokko, Narita-shi, 286-0106 , Tel: 0476-32-1234】 Mar 28 Thu 6:00 - 8:00 Narita Tobu Hotel (1F) Buffet Breakfast Check-out Hotel CIEE Welcome Lunch Stipend 8:30 - 10:45 Hotel Meeting Room "Asahi" (2F) CIEE Orientation 1 (Welcome Meeting) - Official Program Opening 11:00 - 15:50 Travel to Tokyo by chartered bus Including stop for CIEE Welcome Lunch in Odaiba (Tokyo Bay area) and tour of central Tokyo 16:00 - 17:00 Study Center SoftBank prepaid phone sign-up and payment Check-in to the Green Palace Hotel 【Address: 2 Niban-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0084, Tel: 03-5210-4600】 Mar 29 Fri 7:00 - 8:30 Green Palace Hotel Buffet Breakfast Hotel Stipend n/a 8:45 Hotel lobby Check-out and meet Dr. J. 9:40 --- Tokyo Medical Surgical Clinic Doctor's appointment at 9:40 a.m. with Dr. J. 11:30 - 12:30 Sophia Campus Campus Tour and lunch at cafeteria with senpai students. 13:30 North Gate Meet staff (You are included in the Homestay students group.) 14:45 - 16:30 Ikebukuro Bosaikan Earthquake simulation and other training at Life Safety Learning Center Return home (Sophia Edagawa Dorm) on own Mar 30 Sat All Day Free (Other students have required events, but you are not required to come to campus.) n/a n/a n/a
  39. 39. SETTLING IN 38
  40. 40. KAMAKURA 39
  41. 41. SPRING SEMESTER Challenges VS. • Attitudes • Physical barriers • Lack of experience • Assumptions/ misunderstandings • Academic policies Positives • Good will • Removed if possible (within university) • Willing to learn • Understood if explained carefully • Some flexibility – not stated 40
  42. 42. BULLET TRAIN and HIRODEN 41 Regular Public Transportation
  43. 43. HIROSHIMA 42
  44. 44. DEPARTURE DAY 43
  45. 45. AFTERMATH • Confidence in assisting students with disabilities if/when needed • Knowledge of disabilities in Japan, especially in an academic setting • Mark’s graduation and Fulbright Fellowship – trailblazing! •Fulbright Commission asked CIEE for advice • A new journey for Mark – not all positive – but he had also gained knowledge, confidence, patience, resourcefulness 44
  46. 46. A NEW ADVENTURE! 45
  47. 47. WHAT WE LEARNED • Academic accommodations / learning disabilities-relatively new fields in Japan • Clarify and specify exact needs of students requiring accommodations • Host university is eager to learn from us • No separate Office of Disabilities/Accommodations • Caution! Accommodations Letters & wrong assumptions 46
  48. 48. Sophia University (2013) • For the first time, I became very aware of the inaccessibility of many buildings in Japan • Many private establishments were not accessible to me lest I leave my wheelchair outside and go in with the help of a friend 47
  49. 49. Toyo University (2014) • Accessibility was a challenge not just outside the home, but inside as well, especially: • 玄関(Genkan), or Japanese style entryways • 風呂(Furo), Japanese-style baths, toilets, beds, etc. 48
  50. 50. Access Abroad: General Considerations 1. Access to Academic Facilities 2. Access to Specialty Medical Facilities 3. Access to Living Facilities and Accommodations 4. Health Insurance: Both Domestic and International Coverage 5. Customs Clearance for Medical Devices & Medications 6. Access to Transportation Services 7. Developing of an Emergency Plan 8. Establishing Assistive Services 9. Overcoming Language Barriers 10.Modified Outreach Events and Services 49
  51. 51. Accommodation • ‘Accommodation’ occurs in the liminal space between the disabled individuals’ psyche, their physical capabilities, and the resources of the study abroad program. • Prior to studying abroad the student is often not aware of the cultural idiosyncrasies with regard to accessibility. Take the opportunity to discuss how flexible each party (the student, the program, the overseas partner, etc.) is willing to be. 50
  52. 52. Global Conceptions of Disability: Bane or Boon? Above all, the study abroad program should do all they can to promote disability abroad as a ‘Boon’ and not a ‘Bane’. 51
  53. 53. Bibliography 1. http://www.japantoday.com/category/executive-impact/ view/building-a-barrier-free-society 2. http://www.qsr.mlit.go.jp/n-michi/ barrierfree/michi_machi/p01.html 3. http://www.disabled-world.com/news/asia/japan/japan.php 4. http://www.dinf.ne.jp/doc/english/intl/z15/z15007le/z1500706. html 5. http://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm 52
  54. 54. THANK YOU! Questions for us? 53 Ashley Holben Project Coordinator, Mobility International USA aholben@miusa.org Dr. Kirsten Jensen Center Director in Tokyo, CIEE kjensen@ciee.org Mark Bookman CIEE alumnus Mbookm01@gmail.com

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