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Students with Disabilities & Education Abroad

Admittedly, I did not know if it would be possible to go abroad as someone with a disability at first, but I advocated for myself and asked questions despite the beliefs of others thinking that I could not go abroad I participated in excursions that I never thought of doing before and saw the power of language and culture
— Juanita Lillie, ISA Costa Rica

Did You Know?

Benefits:

  • Studying abroad can help improve confidence and independence
  • Increase valuable skills like cross-cultural communication and adaptability to benefit your future career
  • Dispel your own stereotypes and fight stereotypes by educating others

You Are Ready!

Begin preparing now by doing the following:

  • Communicate with your education abroad program manager and (if you are registered with disability services) your coordinator, about the country/program you plan/wish to go to, your specific needs, and how you can all work together to make this process as smooth as possible. Disclose your needs early (preferably right after acceptance to a program) so appropriate arrangements can be made in advance. We can all meet together if you'd like
  • Other countries may provide access in a different way -- learn about what types of accommodation are typical provided in your host country, and be flexible and open to different ways of accommodating.
  • Research the cultural aspects regarding individuals with disabilities in the country(ies) you are planning or considering traveling to.
  • Prepare ahead of time: Read, communicate with other students, and attend the required pre-departure orientation sessions. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the interaction between your disability and the new environment.
  • Prepare to get enough medications you may be taking well ahead of time and have enough for the entirety of your time abroad. 
  • Think about how you will answer questions about your disability in the language of your host country -- learn key vocabulary words ahead of time.
  • Continue learning while you are abroad by talking with your new friends, host family, conversation partner, teacher, etc.

Useful Resources to Begin Your Exploration

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge Diversity Abroad and MIUSA, whose materials we refer to on this site.