Students with Disabilities
Perceptions and attitudes towards people with disabilities, as well as laws around accessibility, differ in other countries, cultures, and contexts. Additionally, the availability and extent of accommodations will depend on the study away program and country, so it is important to work with the Center for Study Away and Disability Services well in advance (at least 6 months if possible) to discuss possible arrangements.
Don’t let a disability stop you from considering studying away! In addition to all the other personal and academic learning opportunities that a study away experience provides, living and studying in another country could provide a new perspective on how other cultures view and treat people with disabilities.
Given the variability between countries and programs, it’s important to consider what support services or accommodations you currently use on the Macalester campus, and which ones are necessary for you to be successful on a study away program (including family and friend support networks). Because the standard for accessibility in the United States may not be available abroad, it’s also important to become informed about the capacity for accommodations for your programs of interest, and be flexible and open to different ways of accommodating your disability if necessary.
You can learn more by talking to other students, considering some of the questions listed below, and then researching your host country through the following suggested resources. Study abroad advisors in the Center for Study Away are ready and willing to discuss this topic with you during an advising session.
Questions to Ask—Selecting a Program
- What disability services are you used to utilizing while on Macalester campus?
- What types of accommodation and/or disability services are essential for your success in a study away program?
- Have you spoken to the CSA staff about how program structure and location will impact your experience?
- What type of documentation does the program require to confirm disability? Is updated information needed?
- How accessible is the campus/housing/city in the program/area you are interested in?
- How does the country you’re going to view people with your disability?
- How important is it to have a community of other people with your disability while abroad?
Questions to Ask—Preparing for Departure
- Have you spoken to Disability Services about your disability and how it might be accommodated while away?
- What might a reasonable accommodation look like on your study away program?
- Do you have a need for a care provider either at your study away location or a connection to one back home? How can you access needed care while away?
- How will you access specific medications required for your disability (if needed)?
- Are you willing to disclose your disability to others while away?
- What are the physical environments like in your host country?
- What are academics like in your host country? Is learning mainly from lecture, readings, independent research, or a different method? How are the assignments different than at Macalester?
- What housing options exist on your program?
- Is transportation available and accessible?
- Will your disability prevent you from participating fully in all aspects of your study away program?
- How will you answer questions about your disability in the language of the host country, if other than English?
- How will you respond if you are treated differently because of your disability while abroad?
Resources about Study Away for Students with Disabilities
- Macalester Center for Study Away Staff
- Macalester Disability Services, which includes information specific to study away.
- Macalester students
- The CDC offers information about Traveling Abroad with Medicine
- The CDC also offers information about Traveling with a Disability
- The Global Access Files offers Information for Disability Inclusion in International Contexts
- GoAbroad offers an E-Book for Meaningful Travel Tips: Mental Health and Self-Care
- Google Maps Navigation for Individuals who Use Wheelchairs, by Google
- Mobility International has extensive information for students with a disability who are studying abroad. You can read about how to choose programs based on specific disabilities, international laws, cultural attitudes towards disabilities and accommodation, testimonials from students, and logistical advice including a packing list.
- MIUSA Disability Resources A-Z
- The U.S. State Department has information specifically for Americans traveling with a disability.
- TSA.Gov offers information for special procedures regarding Disability and Medical Conditions
- The Center for Disease Control provides information for travelers with disabilities, particularly in regards to air travel.
- Best College’s website on How to Study Abroad with a Disability
- Diversity Abroad’s website includes questions and tips for students with disabilities studying abroad.
- The University of Minnesota has a well-developed website outlining different cultural views on disabilities; this includes student experiences.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers information about Policies for Entering a Foreign Country and Returning to the U.S.
Country Specific Information
- Australia’s Human Rights Commission oversees the implementation of Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act which is similar to the ADA laws in the U.S.
- Studying in Australia as a Disabled Student
- Studying in UK as a Student with Disabilities
- UK Council for International Student Affairs – Mental Health Support in the UK
- Mobility International Blog – What International Exchange Can Teach Us About Identity: 14 Disabled Travelers Reflect on Their Experiences Abroad, by Multiple Authors
- Mobility International Blog – Study Abroad and Land a Job, by Multiple Authors
- A World Awaits You Journal – Stories on Non-Apparent Disabilities: Mental Health, Autism, Diabetes, Learning Disabilities and more, by Multiple Authors
- Abroad 101 is a student blog of FAQs for parents of students with disabilities studying abroad.
- 7 Tips for Studying Abroad with Disabilities and Chronic Conditions, by Elisabet Raquel García
- Managing Mental Health While Abroad, by tauri tomlin
- Ripple Effects: Travelers with Disabilities Abroad, by Multiple Authors, is a podcast about visually impaired individuals who studied abroad.
- Curb Free with Cory Lee – A travel blog about Sharing the World from a Wheelchair User’s Perspective
- So You Want to Study Abroad: A Guide for Students with Learning Disabilities (.doc) is a helpful booklet written by Andrew Maher, a UWEC student who studied abroad in Japan. He wrote it as part of the service requirement for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship he received in support of his time abroad.
- Transitions Abroad, by Multiple Authors, is a travel magazine with a section devoted to telling the stories of those who have gone abroad with disabilities.
- WheelChair Travel is a travel blog was started by wheelchair user, John Morris, to share his experiences about overcoming accessibility barriers while he has traveled to 27 countries and territories (and counting!).
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