Program Leader Accommodation Requests
The University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center and the Disability Resource Center work collaboratively to facilitate equal access for faculty and staff with disabilities or medical conditions seeking to lead an education abroad experience and to provide information on accessibility at overseas sites. The Disability Resource Center, UReturn, is the office designated to serve all employees (including faculty and staff) with any disability or medical condition requiring reasonable accommodation(s). Faculty and staff who plan to lead a learning abroad program and may need reasonable accommodation(s) to fully participate should contact the Disability Resource Center, UReturn at (612) 624-3316 to schedule a consultation to explore potential accommodations abroad.
Program Leader Considerations for Student Accommodations Abroad
The University of Minnesota is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for academic programs abroad. The following recommendations will help facilitate receiving, assessing, and accommodating student requests for disability accommodations on a faculty-led program overseas.
Program Information Materials
•Ensure that your program information materials highlight the essential aspects of your program including any extensive physical activities (such as significant walking, hiking, biking or traveling), the intensity of the learning experience (hours per day in class), unique learning formats (such as archeological digs, attending daily theater performances, etc.).
Responding to Student Accommodation Requests
•Consult with the Learning Abroad Center for guidance on next steps. These typically include asking the student to complete the Accommodations Request Form with the Disability Resource Center, identifying overseas administrative support, clarifying essential program components, assessing reasonable program accommodations.
•After the student completes the Accommodation Request Form they will be informed of what accommodations can be provided, and whom the primary contact during the program period is for questions, clarifications, or unanticipated additional accommodation needs.
•If a student requests accommodation once the program is underway overseas, the program leader should consult with the Learning Abroad Center for guidance on next steps. Request on short notice will be considered on a case-by-case basis and cannot be guaranteed.
•As part of building an inclusive and supportive student community on your program particularly related to a student’s disability accommodations abroad, speak with the student prior to your departure to determine whether the student wishes to disclose information about their accommodation needs to the group or whether the student prefers that you, as the program leader, highlight the importance of group dynamics and cohesion and the support that will be provided to this student. It is important to discuss how much the student feels comfortable having disclosed and whether to disclose this information prior to departure or once on site.
•Particularly in cases in which the program participants may notice the student’s accommodation need, it is important to identify ways to discuss the group dynamic, inclusivity, and the positive learning opportunity that this student’s participation provides to everyone. Program leaders can consult with the Disability Resource Center for advice on successful approaches and strategies.
•Consult with the student on a regular basis (at least weekly) to determine if the disability accommodations are sufficient and appropriate. Consult with the Learning Abroad Center (who will consult with the Disability Resource center, as needed) if any questions or concerns arise.
•Be available for private consultations (through regular office hours, etc.) so that students can disclose questions or concerns regarding their own accommodation needs or those of other students.
•Consider including the topic of inclusivity and individual student growth as part of your final seminar at the end of your program in order to give students an opportunity to reflect on their unique experience and share how they have grown or gained new sensitivities from the group dynamic and program experience.
•Share with the Learning Abroad Center any suggestions regarding the site, program, and accommodation support to be noted for future programs and students.
For further assistance, consult with the Learning Abroad Center and the Disability Resource Center Access Abroad contacts.