Having a disability should not discourage any student from exploring their study abroad options!
There are an increasing number of web and print resources for students with disabilities who would like to learn more about whether studying abroad is a suitable option for them (and if so, whom to contact, what kinds of things you should discuss with your study abroad coordinator, and which universities or programs have a proven track record of working successfully and enthusiastically with prospective study abroad students with disabilities).
MIUSA is an excellent place to start your research. We also encourage you to come and talk with a coordinator in the Office of International Education!
Guida Leicester is a graduate student who studied Portuguese in Brazil while learning about Brazilian culture and explore accessibility for people with disabilities. Her suggestions for prospective study abroad applicants with disabilities include the following:
- Make it possible for your program coordinator to get to know you before the program begins. This way, they are less likely to make assumptions about your abilities.
- If possible, meet with program officials in person prior to the start of your semester. If you can’t meet, consider Skype or phone calls. Emails can be misinterpreted.
- Be sure to find out what trips and excursions are planned so that you can inform coordinators of your disability-related needs. Encourage coordinators to plan for inclusive field trips.
- Speak up when program coordinators make assumptions about your abilities!
Read more in her inspiring blog—proof in itself that a disability does not need to stop you from exploring the world!