Translating Disabilities in Foreign Countries

Translating Disabilities in Foreign Countries

Students with disabilities have long felt that studying abroad was an impossible dream, but no more, says the University of Pittsburgh’s study abroad office. In a new documentary, “Making It Happen,” the office highlights a number of countries and study abroad providers who offer accommodations for students suffering from disabilities such as bipolar disorder, dyslexia, visual and audio impairments and others.

The documentary offers loads of practical advice, such as using luggage with wheels for low-energy students — as well as some quirky cultural surprises: One student who suffers from lupus says the Spanish tradition of afternoon siestas was rehabilitating for her. Another student, suffering from Aspersers Syndrome, discovered the Japanese adherence to ritual, order and tradition accommodated his symptoms.

Says autism activist Mary-Minn Sirag, “Foreigners often see autistic openness as charming and innocent rather than inappropriate and awkward. This defuses the social pressure we feel in our own national culture.”

Thumbs up to the University of Pittsburgh for making what seemed impossible, possible.

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