Students with Disabilities Abroad

Studying abroad is possible!

Participating in an international experience at UNT is a chance to seek new opportunities, broaden your perspective, and build global competence. Managing your disability abroad can be a significant source of growth, challenge, and reflection in a new and unfamiliar environment. You may already be familiar with navigating challenges associated with your disability on campus, but there will likely be a different context to negotiate in your host culture. When preparing for a study abroad experience, it is important to ensure the country you are traveling to will be a good fit for your disability and accommodation needs.

Consider Conditions Overseas

It is important to keep in mind that other parts of the world have different standards of accessibility and perceptions of persons with disabilities. Many countries may offer increased disability accommodations, while others may have more limited options. The U.S. has laws in place, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to ensure accessiblity, but your travel destination likely has different laws or cultural perceptions of those with disabilities. Be sure to ask for an access plan well in advance as it may take additional time to arrange in your host country. Remember that it is vital to be flexible and adaptable when traveling. You are encouraged to stretch your comfort zone while still maintaining your safety.

Disability Access Abroad

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. The Office of Disability Access and Counseling and Testing Services can also provide guidance and resources as you prepare for your experience.

  • What accommodations do I require to manage my disability?
  • How can I access these accommodations (additional time to take tests, a wheelchair, a sign language interpreter, or counseling appointments) while overseas?
  • If I am unable to get the accommodations I use on campus, how can I adapt or create alternative strategies to address my needs?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • Is there a local community of people with similar disabilities that I could connect with?
  • How will in-country infrastructure, such as unpaved roads, availability of ramps or elevators, and access to medications potentially impact my experience?
  • Once I have chosen a program, how will I negotiate international and in-country transportation as it relates to my disability? Will I need to prearrange accessible airport transportation upon departure and arrival to my host country? How will I manage my transportation needs once I am in-country?
  • What type of housing is available in my destination country? Will this adequately address my accommodation needs?

Preparing to Go Abroad

It is essential to plan ahead to negotiate any potential challenges you may face in relation to your disability so your experience abroad will be as smooth as possible. Opportunities to go abroad are available to students of all identities and you are encouraged to engage in an enriching international experience.Talking to other students with disabilities who have traveled overseas can be a great resource to help you become more aware of how your accessibility needs to fit into an unfamiliar environment.

Speak with an Advisor

The Study Abroad Office encourages you to speak with a study abroad advisor as early as possible in your planning process. Your advisor will collaborate with the Office of Disability Access to create an accommodation plan for you. Study abroad advisors can also assist you with questions, such as:
  • What opportunities and challenges have other students with similar identities faced as they prepare to travel abroad?
  • Will my financial aid or other UNT funding sources transfer over to my study abroad experience? What sources of funding are available for study abroad opportunities?
  • What on-campus support and resources can I access overseas?
  • What impact can going abroad have on my academics and career path?

Schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor.

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