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

Through participation and involvement in different activities in the local sections, students with disabilities are given an opportunity to experience the international and intercultural atmosphere associated with the exchange programmes. 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.

The  long-term vision of the project is to promote the opportunities and support offered for students with disabilities to study abroad.

  • Increase the participation of students with disabilities in mobility programmes.
  • Make ESN an accessible organisation.



MapAbility, a sub-part of ExchangeAbility, aims to create a map of the accessibility and services provided by European Higher Education Institutions for students with disabilities. With this new online map, ESN is using MapAbility data to provide disabled students with an exclusive guide to accessibility in European Universities.


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 to Facebook (ExchangeAbility)

LINK- Learning Inclusively Network + Know-how

MappED! official website