Skip to Content Office of International Education
Click here to Login
Disability & Study Abroad
" I saw on a website for students with disabilities that the campus is very accessible...It's not really something out of the ordinary and they just treat you like any other person and that is what I hope for. I think it's better there than in the U.S. " -- New Zealand, Fall 2009



Did You Know?

  •         Disability-related income benefits can continue abroad and even be used to pay for overseas educational and living experience.
  •          In 2011, 4.1 percent of U.S students studying abroad reported a disability (this number is estimated to be much larger)

Benefits:
  • Studying abroad can help improve your confidence and independence
  • Return with valuable skills to benefit your future career, such as cross-cultural communication and adaptability
  • Dispel your own stereotypes and fight stereotypes by educating others

You Are Ready!

Begin preparing now by doing the following:
  • Disclose your disability needs early to your study abroad program manager and, if applicable, your program provider, so appropriate arrangements can be made in advance.
  • Other countries may provide disability 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 your disability.
  • Before you go, find out as much as you can about your host culture and how it views 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.
  • Continue learning while you are abroad by talking with your new friends, host family, conversation partner, teacher, etc.

Useful Resources to Begin Your Exploration
  • European Disability Forum: a collection of pro-disabled persons initiatives in Europe
  • Financial Aid for International Exchange and Disability: This handout published by Mobility International USA explains how it may be possible to use Supplementary Security Income or Vocational Rehabilitation Funding toward study abroad.
  • Global Access: This disabled travel network is a forum for disabled travelers to share their experiences. Find travel tips and articles on a wide variety of destinations. If you have traveled with a disability, submit your own story to this site.
  • Mobility International USA: Mobility International USA (MIUSA) aspires to empower people with disabilities through international exchange, information, technical assistance and training, to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in international exchange and development programs.
  • National Clearing House on Disability & Exchange: a comprehensive one-stop resource for people with disabilities, exchange and disability staff interested in study, work, intern, volunteer, research or teach abroad programs. It includes personal stories from study abroad participants sorted by region or by disability type.
  • UN Enable: This is the United Nations' disabilities branch, focusing on promoting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. 

Acknowledgments

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