Students with disabilities can and do participate in study abroad, international internships, and the International Degree.
The International Degree and Education Abroad (IDEA) office is able to provide information about the availability of accommodations and accessible facilities at various study sites and host institutions and their approximate cost.
Although IDEA cannot guarantee the accessibility of study sites, IDEA can advise students if a given site appears to be inaccessible and recommend an alternate site.
Students who anticipate special needs should also contact the Disability Access Services Office as soon as possible for assistance and advice about participation on an education abroad program.
When choosing a program, students with disabilities may wish to consider the following:
Questions to ask when considering an education abroad site
- If I have a physical disability, what is the level of accessibility in the country (i.e. ramps, elevators, handicapped parking spaces, Braille use, etc.)?
- If I have a learning disability, what kinds of support or accommodations are possible?
- If I need mental health support, what is available in the community or with the education abroad program?
- How does the culture of the country view disabilities? Will I be subject to unwanted stereotyping, stares, or discrimination? How will I cope with any discrimination or social difficulties based on my disability?
There are other questions you may need to ask, depending on the type of disability you have, including:
Processing Disabilities (LD, ADHD, Psychological, Brain injuries)
- Will you need note takers for class?
- What are your host university's policies on extended exam time?
- Is the host university willing to authorize your usual test accommodations based on American medical documentation?
- What tutoring services might be available and at what cost?
- If you need to see a doctor or therapist for psychological concerns while abroad, have you established this contact prior to departure?
- Have you considered bringing a personal recording device for lectures? Do you have permission to record lectures?
- Are books available on tape or CD?
- Who will fund any special accommodations?
Chronic Systemic Disorders
- If you have respiratory problems or severe allergies, what is the air and environmental quality in the city you are considering?
- If your condition is affected by temperatures, what is the climate in your prospective host city?
- What prior notification has been given to the instructors regarding potential absences should your condition flare up unexpectedly?
- Will you need extended time on assignments?
- If you normally receive test accommodations, do you have authorization through the host university to receive the same accommodations there?
- What special dietary considerations might you have?
- If there are extra expenses associated with special accommodations, who will fund these?
Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Will you need an interpreter or Realtime Captioning? Who will fund this accommodation?
- Where/how will the interpreter be hired?
- What is the hourly rate for interpreters in the host country? (Note that interpreter costs vary widely from country to country and within the same country.)
- Does the interpreter know American Sign Language? Sign language is not universal and may differ between countries that have the same spoken language. Students should find out the differences before leaving. It may be possible to depart early to learn the new sign language.
- If you are taking a personal FM system, can you obtain batteries in your host country that work for your device?
- Who will notify your instructor of the need to wear the FM microphone?
- Will you need a note taker?
- Are captioned videos available?
- Who will fund other special accommodations?
- Will you take one or two wheelchairs? Electric or manual?
- Do you need a transformer? Is the voltage in your host country compatible with your transformer?
- How will you ship your chairs abroad?
- Where can your chair be repaired abroad?
- Do you need to make additional arrangements to get from the airport to the orientation site or to your host university?
- Are the streets and/or sidewalks paved or cobblestone? Are there curb cuts for wheelchair access?
- What is the accessibility of the host university and city (elevators, bathrooms, classrooms, housing, transportation, etc.)?
- Is voice recognition software available?
- Will you need note takers, scribes or transcribers?
- What kind of field trips might your program go on? Are they accessible?
- Are lab or library assistants available in your host country?
- Do you need extended time on assignments or exams?
- Who will fund any special accommodations?
- Have you contacted the consulate of your host country to determine if you will need to put your guide dog in quarantine?
- Will special housing or food arrangements be necessary for your dog? Is your dog allowed into the classroom?
- Are alternate formats available? (books on tape, Braille, e-text, scanning, CCTV, etc.).
- Will you need a mobility assistant to help you?
- Have you obtained maps of your host city and enlarged them to become familiar with directions before departure?
- What kind of test accommodations will you need?
- Is there Braille signage on buildings, elevators, classroom, ATMs, etc.?
- Will you have access to computer software in order to write papers or read assignments?
- Who will fund any special accommodations?
IDEA encourages all students to participate in an education abroad program, however, it is important to be informed. When you begin to make arrangements, it may be helpful to consider the following:
- Plan ahead - timing is important. It is not possible to anticipate all concerns, but pre-departure planning will help. Gather access information - contact your education abroad advisor or your future program to see if they have any information on accessibility/accommodation possibilities. Note that IDEA cannot guarantee that facilities and/or support services will be available at each location abroad in the same range and quality as at OSU.
- Be flexible - Study abroad requires adaptability for people with and without disabilities. Living in a new culture will bring new challenges, including disability services and accessibility standards that might differ significantly from what you are used to in the US.
- Disclose your disability to appropriate offices/staff members in International Programs so they can support you in the process.
- Contact Disability Access Services at Oregon State University to register your disability and to discuss possible accommodation services: http://ds.oregonstate.edu/home/
- Students should be aware that federal and state laws do not require the University to provide funding for accommodations and/or facilities beyond US borders.
- It is the student's responsibility to assure that any funding required for special services abroad is arranged well in advance.
- If funding is not available, students are responsible for all costs associated with special services abroad.
- Students who disclose needs at the last minute, or who require accommodations that cannot be made available in the host country, may be advised to postpone participation.
Medication and Medical Care Abroad
Before departure, students should consult and have a plan in place with a physician or the travel clinic at their campus Student Health Services about medication management and medical care needs while abroad. If you take medication, you should inquire if your prescription is legal and available in the host country, or if you will be able to take an extra supply of medication that will last during your stay. Contact the nearest consulate or embassy for your host country to inquire about whether your medication is considered a controlled substance and to determine procedures for bringing your medication into the host country. For assistance locating the nearest consulate, try the Worldwide Embassies and Consulates Search Engine at www.embassyworld.com. Also, if you may need to see a doctor or psychologist while abroad, discuss this with your Campus EAP Advisor so you understand what physicians or medical facilities are available in your host city. Establish contact with these medical providers before departure to clarify eligibility for services and payment issues.
Students bringing a personal attendant with them must make sure the attendant has the necessary passport, visa, documentation, insurance, and immunizations for traveling and living abroad. Where will he or she live? (Some programs can only accommodate students.) What kind of funding will he or she need? If students will need to hire an attendant abroad they should find out before departure what steps to follow and what funding will support this cost.