Travelers with Disabilities
Study Abroad is for Students with Disabilities!
It is often assumed that there are no opportunities for students with disabilities to study abroad. Though students with disabilities make up only a portion of the students that are underrepresented in study abroad, incredible international opportunities exist and we encourage you to explore the information and resources we have provided below. It is highly encouraged that students with a disability disclose early on so that adequate accommodations can be made. A student will never be denied participation to study abroad based on their disability. Do not let anything stand in the way of your study abroad experience! Check out the information below to learn about information on disclosing your disability, tips on how to make study abroad a reality, information on how to pay for your accommodations and program, and additional helpful resources.
What is a disability?
Under Section 504 and the American Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is defined as someone who:
There are a variety of disability types that might need accommodation abroad. The list of six disability types below provides a basic description and the modifications provided in the United States (information provided via Michigan State's Office of Study Abroad).
Chronic Health Conditions: affects one of more of the systems of the body. this includes cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, or HIV-AIDS. Modifications may include a reduced course load, extra time on exams, modified deadlines, and taping lectures.
Hearing Disabilities: can range from students who have hearing losses of such severity that he/she depends primarily upon visual communication, to students who have difficulty hearing but don't depend on visual communication. Modifications may include sign language interpreters, real time captioning, captioned videos, assistive hearing devices, note taking assistance, telephone teletext devices, or advance registration and/or syllabi.
Learning Disabilities: refers to significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, and/or mathematical abilities. Modifications may include providing syllabi and assignments in advance, allowing extended time on exams, or a separate room, note taking assistance, taping lectures, use of a reader, scribe, or adaptive technology and/or tutorial assistance.
Mobility Disabilities: range from limited stamina to conditions that limit a person's coordination or ability to move. Modifications may include accessible classroom furniture and/or location, adaptive computers and software, extended time for exams, scribe, a reduced course load, accessible transportation, access to personal care assistance, or note taking assistance.
Psychiatric Disabilities: may include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. Modifications may include a separate room for exams, extended time for exams, modified deadlines or reduced course load, ready access to mental health professionals and a pharmacy.
Vision Impairments: ranges from legal blindness (significant or total loss of vision) to eye conditions which substantially limit one's field of vision. Modifications may include mobility orientation, advance copies of syllabi and course materials, alternate formats of reading materials, reader/scribe, or adaptive technology.
*It is important to note that countries and study abroad programs overseas may not provide similar accommodations and accessibility.
Advantages of Early Disclosure
*information provided by University of California
Tips for Students with Disabilities
Resources for Students with Disabilities
Funding your Study Abroad
Below is a list of resources students should examine when budgeting for their study abroad program and/or their accommodation needs. This is not an exhaustive list so we encourage students to conduct their own searches.
GVSU Students with Disabilities Success Stories
Costa Rica, 2013
"I adventured to Costa Rica in Winter 2013 to earn some credits towards my Spanish Language and Literature Degree. There I went surfing, zip-lining, horseback riding, and participated in many more activities that people did not think I was going to participate in because of my blindness. However, my very supportive family in the United States, caring host family, and wonderful friends within my program assisted me to make the once in a life time experience possible.
Through the experience there were many lessons that my trip to Costa Rica taught me. For example, I am more empathetic and accepting towards ideas, lifestyles, and the way people complete things within different cultures and families. Also, the ability to advocate for myself and others has strenghtened me tremendously. In fact, I am trying to motivate other students with all types of disabilities (visible and hidden) to go abroad. Finally, I want to see more study abroad and exchange programs be inclusive when reaching out to students with disabilities. I know that all students can and should study abroad which means do not let others steer you away."
Page last modified April 8, 2014