The number of students with disabilities attending college is on the rise and study abroad offices need to serve this growing population. Improving access to international opportunities for students with disabilities requires the cooperative efforts of disability and study abroad professionals. Each side has their own expertise to contribute to the equation.
What is a Disability?
An individual with a disability is a person who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts one
or more major life activities such as hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself or learning
- has a record of such impairment; or
- is regarded as having such an impairment.
Visit Disability Resource Center for information on common disabilities.
Resources for International Education & Disability Professionals
- Online Traning Module for International Educators: An online module that provides an overview of key considerations when working with students with disabilities.
- Student Advising: Suggestions for how Disability and Study Abroad offices can work together to facilitate successful international experiences for students with disabilities.
- Program Promotion: What's the best way to promote study abroad to reach students with disabilities and encourage early disclosure of disability needs?
- Roles and Responsibilities: Find answers here to some of the questions that often arise when students with disabilities participate in study abroad.
- Determining Site Accessibility: How to determine to what extent your institution's study abroad sites are accessible, and for what types of disabilities. A comprehensive questionnaire or the summary questionnaire are helpful tools to use.
- Student Accommodation Request Form: Complete this form with the student needing accommodation and send it to the on-site staff to determine what reasonable accommodations can be provided.
- Student Accommodation Letter: A letter to be sent to the student confirming overseas accommodations.
- Homestay Considerations: Tips for study abroad advisers arranging homestays for students with disabilities and guidelines for the families who host them.
- Student Resources: Resources and considerations for students with disabilities interested in studying abroad.
Resources and Tips for Study Abroad Advisers
- Present All Options: Let the student decide which programs work for them.
- Be Objective: Describe all aspects of accessibility, good and bad.
- Keep an Open-Mind: What is perceived as a barrier can have a simple, creative solution.
- Collaborate with Your Disability Resource Center Office: Determining accommodations for study abroad requires the cooperative efforts of both study abroad staff and disability specialists.
Resources and Tips for Disability Specialists
- Keep an Open-Mind: What is considered standard in the US may not be available overseas. When a particular accommodation is not available, be creative and open to different solutions.
- Think Ahead: Even if students feel that little or no accommodation is needed overseas, help them think about how the new environment and culture affects their accommodation needs.
- Be supportive: The international experience can be unsettling for any student. Students can be susceptible to stress and should have a plan in place in case symptoms arise.
- Collaborate with Overseas Staff: On-site staff may need more information about a disability than would normally be disclosed to a professor.