Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability, whether physical, learning, or otherwise, you may be wondering if studying abroad is an option for you.  The answer is “yes!”

The Office of Global Engagement can help identify a program that may be a good fit and help coordinate appropriate resources and accommodations you might require.  Disclosure and early planning is key so we invite students to meet with us as soon as they might be interested to begin planning.

Laws and cultural norms that impact accessibility vary from country to country.  In the U.S., wheelchair accessibility or study aids for visual impairment are examples of disability related needs that U.S. universities address on a regular basis, and federal laws govern how these issues are handled.  Depending on the program and location you choose, your own needs may present a relatively uncommon scenario for a study abroad program provider or foreign university to consider in an environment governed by different disability laws and social norms.  While potentially challenging, these considerations are manageable and should not inhibit an international experience.

Here are some steps you can take to begin your study abroad planning:

  1. PLAN early – at least one year in advance of studying abroad – and communicate with advisors at the Disability Access Center (DAC) and the Office of Global Engagement (OGE). If you have not registered your disability and accommodation needs with the DAC, do so.
  2. GATHER information from your departmental academic advisor as soon as possible. Discuss how study abroad can fit with your academic program.
  3. RESEARCH various study abroad program options. Consider the connections to your educational and personal goals as well as the requirements for acceptance to a study abroad program.
  4. IDENTIFY accommodations that would minimize barriers and enhance your participation and enjoyment while abroad. Keep in mind that due to differing environments, you may need accommodations or assistance abroad that you may not typically need in the United States.  As soon as you are comfortable, disclose your needs to the OGE.
  5. COMPILE information on each program relating to your individual needs (e.g. arranged and public transportation, housing, alternative test taking, course requirements, etc.). PNW can work with you to find compatible sites in the host country that best coincide with your educational and disability needs.  Keep in mind that other countries have their own rules and regulations concerning the accommodation of learning disabilities and mobility limitations and are not obligated to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.
  6. NARROW your options to one or two programs of interest.
  7. SPEAK to the International Coordinator in OGE responsible for your selected site(s).
  8. DEVELOP a budget and a financial plan for accomplishing your goal. If you require a personal care attendant, keep in mind that it will be your responsibility to make such arrangements.  There will likely be a significant cost to you for any personal care assistance, so plan ahead to ensure that you can afford the necessary arrangements well in advance of your program.
  9. SELECT a study abroad program and apply!


(This page has been adapted from the Arizona State University Study Abroad Office)