Students with Disabilities
When traveling abroad, it’s important to know that perceptions of and accommodations for disability will vary. The key to any global learning participant is flexibility. Accommodations may be different in each country. However, many institutions are increasingly offering accommodations for students with both visible and invisible disabilities.
We encourage you to communicate your needs to our office, your activity organizer, and/or the Academic Accommodation Support office as soon as possible. This will provide us with the opportunity to assess which programs may be a good fit for you and explore available avenues to ensure that your particular needs are met.
To help you learn more about global learning abroad for students with disabilities, we’ve compiled the information and resources below. The goal of these resources is to ensure you can make an informed decision about global learning abroad. As you navigate the material, feel free to reach out to us at any point in time. In addition, the MastersDegree.net resource, Guide to Studying Abroad for Students with Disabilities (external link, opens in new window) , is an excellent step by step guide (see below for additional resources).
- Disclose your disability needs to program staff early, so appropriate arrangements and reasonable accommodations can be made in advance.
- Remember that other cultures may provide disability access in a different way—learn about what types of accommodations are typically provided in your host country and be prepared to advocate for the accommodations that you require.
- Before you go, find out as much as you can about your destination culture and how they view disability by reading, talking to other students from the region or who have experience travelling in the region (this may include reaching out to students from other universities who have a similar disability and have travelled in the area, for example, those who have shared their experiences on one of the platforms below), and attending pre-departure orientation sessions. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the new environment.
- Consider how you will ask for accommodations once you arrive in the destination country. You may encounter situations that you were not able to prepare for in advance. If language is a barrier, considering learning key vocabulary.
- What is my destination culture's attitude toward individuals with disabilities (mobility, psychiatric, hearing, vision, learning, etc.)?
- In what ways should I prepare to adjust to living in a foreign country? (re: housing, food, culture, language, healthcare, etc.)
- How many on-site resources (offices, staff, hospitals, counseling centers, note-taking assistants, books on tape, etc.) are offered in my host city/university?
- How different is the academic environment, and is there flexibility for longer test time, reduced workloads, mandatory excursions, etc.?
- What support systems are necessary to help me overcome barriers or to cope with incidents?
- What barriers might I encounter (both in planning to go abroad, and while abroad), and how will I overcome them?
- If I utilize academic, medical, psychological, or other resources at my home institution, will I utilize resources abroad? Where can I find the resources I need? What is the financial cost of these resources and what does my insurance cover?
- Overall, what is the physical environment and terrain like of my destination city and host university?
- If local transportation such as buses, trains, planes are available (and corresponding bus or train station and airport), are they accessible?
- Are there accessible housing options that are close to classes? If there are dining areas, laundry rooms, and study areas, are these accessible as well?
- Are bathrooms in key areas (classroom, housing, libraries) accessible?
- Are local businesses (banks, shopping centers, markets, grocery stores) accessible?
- If you take prescriptions, make sure you have enough to last throughout the entire stay.
- All meds should be stored in their original containers with their labels attached and visible.
- Carry a letter from a physician that describes the medication.
- Always carry medications in your carry-on in the event your checked bag is delayed or lost.
- It is illegal to have medication sent abroad to you via postal mail.
- Confirm your health insurance covers any disability-related medical needs while overseas.
- Ensure your medication is legal in your destination country by contacting the consulate or embassy.
- Disability services that are provided at Toronto Metropolitan University may not be overseas.
- Tutoring may not be a free service at the host university.
- To obtain a visa, some countries require health information, which can delay the process.
- Electricity for equipment or recharging batteries often requires adapters.
- Learning disabilities may not be recognized in some countries.
- Sign language interpreters may not be certified or available at all times, and interpreting will generally be in the sign language of the country rather than ASL.
- Some countries quarantine guide dogs before they are allowed into the country. It is important to review quarantine legislation of the destination country prior to travel (see recourse on traveling international with a guide dog or service animal (external link, opens in new window) ).
- Bring mobility aids to use in restrooms without bars or on long train platforms.
- Carry extra spare parts or differing types of casters for a wheelchair.
Academic Accommodation Support at Toronto Metropolitan University
Mobility International USA Resource Library (external link, opens in new window) - Phenomenal resource library with lots of first-hand accounts and articles from students with disabilities who have participated in global learning abroad programs.
Diversity Abroad (external link, opens in new window) - Students with Disabilities Abroad Resource Page
Guide to studying Abroad for Students with Disabilities (external link, opens in new window) - By MastersDegree.net - great step by step resource.
Orientation for Students with Disabilities Studying Abroad (external link, opens in new window) - From the University of Minnesota
Student Experiences studying abroad with a disability (external link, opens in new window) - From the University of Minnesota
Abroad With Disabilities (external link, opens in new window) - Organization dedicated to promoting and supporting students with disabilities going abroad.
National Clearning house on Disability Exchange (external link, opens in new window) - A comprehensive one-stop resource for people with disabilities, exchange and disability staff interested in study, work, intern, volunteer, research or teach abroad programs.
Studying in UK as a student with a disability (external link, opens in new window) - If you are interested in studying or interning abroad in the United Kingdom specifically, you may find this resource helpful to learn about your rights, resources available at UK universities, and more.
Deaf Identity Abroad (external link, opens in new window) - A resource page by Gallaudet University, a private university in the U.S designed to be barrier-free for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
Deaf Travel / Hard-of-Hearing resource (external link, opens in new window) - From Good Neighbor Insurance
Studying in Germany as a Student with Disabilities (external link, opens in new window) - A resource page specifically for students with disabilities looking to study in Germany. A good outline of your rights under German law and helpful organizations and resources.
Studying in Australia as a Student with Disabilities (external link, opens in new window) - A resource page specifically for students with disabilities looking to study in Australia. A good outline of your rights under Australian law and helpful organizations and resources.
Studying in UK as a Student with Disabilities (external link, opens in new window) - A resource page specifically for students with disabilities looking to study in the UK. A good outline of your rights under UK law and helpful organizations and resources.