Access Abroad

General Guidelines & Resources

What is a Disability?

The definition of disability in the US can be broad. Student modification needs vary even if two students have the same disability. Given this variety, it is helpful for advisers and students to be flexible when considering student needs and overseas accessibility. For information on disability types, consult the Disability Resource Center.

What is Required?

Two US federal laws address the rights of individuals with disabilities. Although the ADA cannot require overseas programs to be accessible, most institutions which sponsor programs abroad follow the principle used in the US and provide reasonable academic modifications.

What are the Next Steps?

In order to determine what modifications might be possible overseas, the student, the disability services specialist, the study abroad adviser, and the overseas institution need to work together. Below are the key steps to take to provide services for students with disabilities.

How is Overseas Access Determined?

Access overseas varies depending on the country and the overseas site. Creative thinking and a realistic assessment of the possibilities on site are essential considerations in this process. In some cases, it's possible to identify local support services. In other cases, the overseas site may determine modifications cannot be provided, and the student needs to consider another site.


Mobility International USA: This national clearinghouse on disability and exchange provides information and guidance on international exchange opportunities for students with disabilities.

A World of Options: A Guide to International Educational Exchange, Community Service, and Travel for People with Disabilities: Over 600 pages of information on travel and international programs. Available from Mobility International USA.

Building Bridges: A Manual on Including People with Disability in International Exchange Programs: Suggestions and creative ideas for including, recruiting and accommodating people with disabilities in international programs. Available from Mobility International USA.

Rights and Responsibilities: A Guide to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
for International Exchange Organizations and Participants: Information on the rights and responsibilities of students and institutions participating in international exchange. Available from Mobility International USA.