Exploring U-M’s Opportunities Around the World

 

Disabilities Abroad

Student Experiences Abroad

An education abroad experience is a chance to seek new opportunities, broaden your perspective, and build global competence. Managing your disability abroad can be a source of growth, challenge, and reflection in a new and unfamiliar environment.

    1. “I was afraid that my peers would believe the stigma surrounding mental illness, that they would look at me as weak or crazy, but in reality they supported me. A few times, they even reminded me to take my medication when the days got too busy and long. “

    2. “I am a student with dyslexia, and I studied abroad in Rome Italy. Anyone who has the will to study abroad can study abroad! Why not make it you?”

    3. "My time abroad was one the best experiences of my life because of what I was able to do outside of my internship. Exploring Greece was breathtaking because of its endless beauties. I learned to scuba dive, and it was one of the most magical, life changing experiences. I will pursue this newfound passion of mine for the rest of my life!"

    4. “Being abroad certainly put me outside of my physical comfort zone, but not once did my disability prevent me from learning more about myself and my environment, which I felt was the true essence of a study abroad experience.”

    5. “Managing trauma-induced depression and integrating grief into my life are two of the most difficult things I am learning how to do. Being at Oxford was the happiest I have been in awhile. Perhaps it was because of a combination of the stimulating environment, enriching excursions, and an amiable cohort. People were respectful which encouraged authenticity and healing.”

    Planning your Experience Abroad

    Use this page to explore the considerations, opportunities, questions, and challenges of traveling abroad with a disability.

    How do I start planning my experience abroad as a student with a disability?

    As you consider and prepare for an international experience, use the following questions to guide you. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and you may relate to multiple identities. You are encouraged to discuss these topics in-person with an education abroad advisor in your school or college. The Services for Students with Disabilities office (SSD) and the Counseling and Psychological Services office (CAPS) can also provide guidance and resources as you prepare for your experience.

    • List your accommodations
      • What accommodations (such as: classroom, housing, nutrition, transportation, aides, etc.) do I require to manage my disability, and which of these are non-negotiable?
      • Are there countries where my required accommodations are not available?
    • Consider how you will manage the unexpected
      • What strategies do I use on campus to manage my disability? How will I apply or modify these while I’m abroad?
      • If I am unable to get the accommodations I need, how can I adapt or create alternative strategies to address them?
    • Examine the laws and infrastructure of your host country
      • How does my preferred host country address and perceive physical mobility (ramps, elevators, Personal Care Assistants, etc.) and/or invisible or non-apparent disabilities (learning disabilities, ADHD, anxiety, asthma, etc.)?
      • What laws and infrastructure are in place in my preferred host country to help support persons with disabilities?
      • How will in-country infrastructure, such as unpaved roads, availability of ramps or elevators, and access to medications potentially impact my experience?
    • Seek your community
      • Is there a local community of people with similar disabilities that I could connect with?
    • Research health considerations
      • Will I have the same access to medications as I do in the United States?

    What resources are available to me as a student with disabilities?

    Researching the climate for people with disabilities around the world is an important part of deciding where you will travel. Attitudes and laws surrounding physical mobility, mental illness, and chronic conditions will vary depending on your destination and it is essential that you have an understanding of the disability rights in your host country.

    Explore the following resources regarding traveling with a disability:

    Download the Disabilities Abroad flyer for additional questions and considerations for traveling abroad. Bring this resource with you when meeting with an academic advisor, education abroad advisor, or other U-M office.

    Will I be able to get the same accommodations that I receive at U-M while abroad?

    Your accommodations may vary. Many parts of the world have different standards of accessibility and perceptions of people with disabilities. In the U.S., laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require organizations to ensure accessible accommodations, but your travel destination likely has different laws, cultural perceptions, and accommodations for people with disabilities. You are encouraged to utilize resources such as Mobility International (www.miusa.org) to learn more about the cultural perceptions and attitudes of the host destination.

    Options for medication depend on the country and its laws. In some cases, a medication that is illegal may have an alternative version that is legal within the country. The University Travel Abroad Health Insurance covers prescribed medications and if planned in advance, you will be able to pick up medications locally at the host destination. You are encouraged to connect with your physician and conduct research on your host destination.

    What else do I need to consider when traveling abroad as a student with a disability

    Other considerations you should account for while planning your experience abroad include:

    • What coping strategies do I use in the U.S. to manage my disability? How will I apply or modify these while I’m abroad? If I am unable to get the accommodations I need, how can I adapt or create alternative strategies to address them?
    • How does my preferred host country address and perceive physical mobility (ramps, elevators, Personal Care Assistants, etc.) and/or invisible or non-apparent disabilities (learning disabilities, ADHD, anxiety, asthma, chronic pain, etc.)?
    • What laws and infrastructure are in place in my preferred host country to help support persons with disabilities?
    • Is there a local community of people with similar disabilities that I could connect with?
    • What accommodations do I require to manage my disability while abroad?

    • 2,775
      Volunteers

      U-M is the No. 4 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers since the program was established in 1961

    • No.5
      Nationally

      U-M ranked 5th in the nation in the number of U.S. students studying abroad for the 2019-2020 academic year