"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!"
“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.”
“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?”
“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. “
“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.”
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. Use this page to explore considerations, opportunities, and challenges of traveling abroad with a disability.
Did You Know?
- The Open Doors report also noted that the number of students studying abroad with disabilities is on the rise, increasing from 2.6% in 2006-2007, to 8.8% in 2015-2016.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education asserts that students with disabilities study abroad to locations that may be considered non-traditional or challenging for those experiencing mobility issues.
Time to Reflect:
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?
Further explore traveling with a disability through the following resources:
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.