Information for Students with Disabilities: Access Abroad
What is Access Abroad?
Access Abroad is a collaborative effort at the University of Minnesota between the Learning Abroad Center and Disability Services to facilitate equal access for students seeking to pursue an education abroad experience and to provide information on accessibility at overseas sites.
Is study abroad for you?
Study abroad can satisfy liberal education and language requirements, and students with disabilities often say that their time abroad was the most exciting time in college. While study abroad can be challenging, the experience can help you learn more about yourself and your capabilities. In the words of one Disability Specialist at the University of Minnesota: "Go for it!"
Most financial aid can be applied to study abroad, and many students find that the cost of going abroad is actually comparable to the cost of studying on campus. In addition, the Learning Abroad Center annually awards scholarships which are applied to study abroad costs.
Students registered with Disability Services who are eligible for on-campus accommodation are also eligible for overseas accommodation when it can be arranged. Any site has the potential to be accessible. Students are encouraged to speak with their disability specialist and together fill out the Accommodations Request Form to identify the reasonable accommodations they may need overseas.
Which Program is Right for You?
Carefully consider the following:
- If you are considering study abroad for the first time, review the Learning Abroad Center's advising information.
- What are the physical environments like in your host country?
- Is learning mainly from lecture, readings, independent research, etc?
- How are the assignments different?
- What housing options exist?
- Do you need to do their own cooking? Laundry?
- Is transportation available and accessible?
Just as cultures differ, so do disability accommodations and perceptions. The key for any study abroad participant is flexibility. Most Learning Abroad Center programs have accessibility information available. For supplemental information, students are encouraged to contact Mobility International for assistance in finding programs and overseas support services.
It is important to communicate your needs and consider alternative ways to meet them. Disability Services and the Learning Abroad Center are here to assist you before and during your trip abroad.
Quick Tips for Students with Disabilities Going Abroad
- Disclose your disability needs to program staff early, so appropriate arrangements and reasonable accommodations can be made in advance.
- Remember that other cultures may provide disability access in a different way—learn about what types of accommodation are typically provided in your host country, and be flexible and open to different ways of accommodating your disability.
- Before you go, find out as much as you can about your host culture and how they view disability by reading, talking to other students, and attending pre-departure orientation sessions. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the interaction between your disability and the new environment.
- Think about how you will answer questions about your disability in the language of your host country—look up key vocabulary words ahead of time.