The FLEX program, which is funded by the United States Government, is committed to providing all eligible students with the opportunity to take part in the program. This includes students with disabilities. Since the program began in 1993, over 300 students with visual, hearing, motor, and other disabilities have become FLEX participants. All FLEX participants have the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of other cultures, increase their skills and self-esteem, acquire new language skills, expand their career opportunities, and so much more. Study abroad can be a life-changing experience and the gateway to becoming independent and better able to overcome challenges. FLEX does not discriminate based on physical ability or disability. As long as an applicant meets the age, grade, and citizenship requirements for participation which are listed below, s/he may apply to the program. FLEX can accommodate applicants with a wide range of disabilities, and corresponding testing materials are available in a variety of formats. Please contact your local American Councils office so that we can best accommodate your needs.
MIUSA Students with disabilities who become finalists of the FLEX program attend a one-week independence skills and goal-setting workshop in Eugene, Oregon in early August, before traveling to their U.S. host communities. This workshop is organized by Mobility International, USA (MIUSA), a leading disability rights organization. The MIUSA workshop will include: • Interactive sessions on life in the U.S. for people with disabilities, including rights and opportunities in education and community activities; • Activities to build leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills; and • Action planning to achieve short- and long-term goals for the FLEX year. (http://www.miusa.org/exchange/currentprogs/flexyesasmyle)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I have a disability – can I participate in FLEX?
Yes. Students with disabilities are welcome and encouraged to participate in FLEX. There are over 300 FLEX alumni who are blind, deaf or have a physical disability (for example, cerebral palsy). Staff works to accommodate students with disabilities at testing and on the program. Special testing materials are available to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities. FLEX believes all eligible candidates should have the chance to apply to the program.
Do students with disabilities really become FLEX finalists?
FLEX accepts many students with disabilities, and a significant number of those who participate in the competition go on to become finalists. It is never easy to try something new, especially something as big as spending a year away from your family and friends. This may be even harder if you are not confident in your language skills and ability to do things independently. Based on alumni experiences it is worth taking the chance. The benefits are endless, even if the first step is the hardest.
What if my English is not strong enough?
If you are accepted to FLEX and your English skills are still developing, there are two opportunities to help you: • You might be assigned to take part in American Councils’ Moldova English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Camp, in Chisinau. • You might be designated as a Language Program FLEX student, meaning that your Placement Organization will provide no fewer than 15 days of intensive instruction in English in the U.S., before your U.S. school starts.
If I need medical care in the U.S., who will pay for it?
The FLEX program provides all finalists with program insurance that covers medical emergencies. FLEX is not a medical treatment program, and does not provide for consultations, treatments, or surgeries.
I require special accommodations to take tests at school. Can FLEX help me?
All students who apply to the FLEX program regardless of physical ability or disability go through the same testing process. However, adapted tests (Braille, enlarged, etc.) are available and can be used to allow anyone to be tested. As long as a candidate is able to communicate in English (spoken, written, etc.), FLEX is able to accommodate them. Feel free to contact your local FLEX office to get more details on how you can be accommodated.