Tips for Studying Abroad for Students with Disabilities

  • Contact your university's Disability Services office as soon as possible.
  • Consider the different kinds of study abroad programs and the place of each program.
  • Research each country's culture, the accessibility of the country, and attitude barriers.
  • Research the history, customs, and beliefs of the host country. What role does disability play?
  • Review the weather of each country and consider how this will affect your disability.
  • Consider how you deal with stress and how stress affects your disability.
  • Maintain your physical and mental health while abroad. Develop a support system abroad.
  • Research all disability support programs at the host site. Obtain contact information of people who have the same disability. Interview these people prior to traveling abroad for information on how they accommodate themselves in that country.
  • Disclose and share your disability information with host site key players.
  • Research all possible supports.
  • If you use a wheelchair, weigh the pros and cons between a manual versus a power wheelchair.
  • Research disability equipment repair and maintenance services.
  • Consider electricity in the host country and the possible need for voltage converters. Be certain to obtain extension cords.
  • If you need assistance from others such as a personal care attendant, sign language interpreters, etc. weigh what would be best and most cost effective; bringing someone with you on the trip or obtain help within the host country.
  • If you use a service animal, research quarantine laws, cultural views regarding animals, veterinarians, and documentation necessary to bring along a service animal.
  • Travel with all medical documentation and prescriptions in y our language and translated in the language of the host country. Be certain the prescriptions also include the generic name of all medications.
  • Collect and travel with extra medications and supplies.
  • Discuss with the Study Abroad office all possible expenses. Then consider additional expenses related to your disability.
  • Stock up on all medical supplies and medications or explore how to obtain these items at the host country.
  • Research if your medical insurance will be accepted abroad.
  • Find out if the host university has a Disability Services office. If it does, contact them right away to find out what services they may offer.
  • Explore possible housing option.
  • Research the accessibility of airports.
  • Learn your rights under the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA)
  • Consider obtaining temporary ramps to solve access issues involving a couple of steps.
  • If accessible transportation is necessary, consider buying or renting your own vehicle with the necessary equipment.


Based on the Mobility International USA Publication "Survival Strategies for Going Abroad: A Guide for People with Disabilities" by Laura Hershey