U of M Students

MSID Thailand: Site Access Summary

Program website

Learn about MSID—Thailand.

Attitudinal

Traditionally, the cultural attitude towards individuals with disabilities has one of families being ashamed of people with disabilities, due to the belief that bad actions in a past life have fated the person to have the disabilities. While this is changing, even now people will hide family members with visible disabilities. Traditionally there were no job opportunities other than begging and selling lottery tickets. This is changing with a number of disability rights organizations challenging laws to allow disabled people to have more employment opportunities, and to increase accessibility.

Foreigners with visible disabilities are regarded with a mixture of pity (due to their fate), and admiration (for doing something that no Thai would consider—traveling with a disability).

While there are some legal protections offered, there is no equivalent to the ADA in Thailand, so access and other accommodations are not common.

Classroom/Internship Site

Students typically spend 4-6 hours a day in class and about 4 hours a day on readings, assignments, interaction with their host family and local culture. Student’s learning is assessed through written work/papers, individual and group presentations, class participation, and exams. Internship-related work is typically reviewed by the internship NGO. Homework is handwritten and typed.

Some of the classrooms at the host organization are accessible, but not all doors will be wide enough for wheelchairs.

Classroom accommodations could include recording lectures, extra time on exams, etc. Note takers and/or sign language interpreters are not available (Thailand’s sign language is, of course, different than ASL).

The internship component of the program involves working on site for a six-week period. While urban internship site may have rooms on the ground floor, ramps and other accessibility options are not always available. Rural areas will not be easily accessible.

Excursions and Field Trips

Field trips use 8- and 10-seat vans that are not designed to be wheelchair accessible. Some field trips will be in rural areas over rough terrain, making mobility difficult.

Housing and Food Services

All students are housed with host families. The MSID staff will try to identify suitable homes and host families that could provide appropriate accommodations if the specific accommodations are disclosed in advance.

Technology

Students have access to a limited number of computers with Internet access, but the host organization has WiFi. Currently there is no assistive technology (e.g. Braille printer, screen magnification software, etc.) on-site.

Library Services

Students have access to library facilities. Library facilities include primarily printed books and on-line resources.

Transportation

Public transportation (tuk-tuks, songtaew mini-buses and vans) are not wheelchair accessible.