Students living with disabilities and chronic medical conditions may want to research the level of accessibility provided in their preferred study abroad destinations.
Some of the important factors to consider when choosing a study abroad location include the prevalence of physically accessible buildings and streets, the type of support services available, and whether the appropriate health care and medicines are available.
We are happy to help you research this information and make recommendations based on your particular needs. Students can also contact Middlebury’s Disability Resource Center for information and advice.
Things to Consider Before Going Abroad
Adapted from Northwestern University’s “Identity Abroad: Accessibility”
- Will my disability or medical condition affect which study abroad programs I consider?
- How will I plan ahead to manage my condition before going abroad?
- How will I adjust to living in a foreign country (e.g., housing, food, culture, language, etc.)?
- What barriers might I encounter (both in planning to go abroad and while abroad) and how will I address them?
- If I utilize academic, medical, psychological, or other resources at my home institution will I utilize these same resources while abroad? How will I access the resources I need?
- If I utilize certain accommodations at my home institution, will I be able to access those same accommodations abroad? Who do I need to communicate with ahead of time to make sure my accommodations are in place?
- Are the medications I take legal in my host country? If not, what alternatives do I have?
Things to Consider While Abroad
Adapted from Diversity Abroad’s “Diversity & Inclusion Abroad Guide: Students with Disabilities Abroad”
- How are people with my disability or medical condition viewed in my host country?
- What types of resources, communities, or support networks for people with disabilities or chronic medical conditions exist in my host country?
- Am I willing to disclose my disability or medical condition to my host family or roommates? To my friends abroad?
- How accessible are places in my host country?
- Will my disability or medical condition prevent me from participating in any excursions or activities?
- How should I respond if people give me unsolicited help?
Suggested Articles and Videos
- An article written by a student who is on the autism spectrum about her experience studying abroad in Florence with the Middlebury School in Italy.
- A collection of brief video interviews from Stanford University featuring students who studied abroad while living with various disabilities.
- A brief video orientation from the University of Minnesota with helpful information for students with disabilities who are preparing to go abroad.
- A comprehensive guide from the University of South Florida for students living with mental health disorders who are preparing to, or are already, studying abroad. Much of the information regarding mental health wellness is applicable to all students, regardless of their mental health status.
- Mobility International USA is a comprehensive hub for information and resources for students with all types of disabilities and other medical considerations who are preparing to study abroad.
- Northwestern University’s Identity Abroad webpage dedicated to dietary restrictions. This page offers helpful advice on how to prepare for going abroad as a student with dietary restrictions, as well as a list of internet resources for travelers with different dietary needs.
- The University of California’s Education Abroad Program resource page for Students with Disabilities, which provides advice on how to plan and lists of specific questions to consider based on the particular nature of a student’s disability or chronic medical condition.
- Carson, Grace. “Why I Chose to Study Abroad Despite My Mental Illness.” Unpacked: A Study Abroad Guide for Students Like Me. (2017)
- Chan Hodges, Liam. “Handling Illness While Abroad.” Unpacked: A Study Abroad Guide for Students Like Me. (2018)
- Feely, Chris. “Six Tips Every Diabetic Should Read Before Studying Abroad.” Unpacked: A Study Abroad Guide for Students Like Me. (2016)
- Gillhespy, Laura. Toxic Talk: Trying to Lip Read in China. BBC News, 12 May 2016
- Lieberman, Caroline. “How to Avoid Dairy (And Other Allergens) While Abroad.” Unpacked: A Study Abroad Guide for Students Like Me. (2018)
- Rossner, Gabriela. “Managing Disability Abroad.” Unpacked: A Study Abroad Guide for Students Like Me. (2018)
- Tomlin, Tauri. “Managing Mental Health While Abroad.” Diversity Abroad: Articles & Resources. (2017)
- University of Minnesota. Student Experiences
- Celiac Travel: https://www.celiactravel.com/
- National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE): https://www.miusa.org/ncde
- Northwestern University. Eating Disorders Abroad
- University of Minnesota: Accessibility Abroad
- U.S. Department of State: Travelers with Disabilities
- Wheelchair Travel: https://wheelchairtravel.org/
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