Visible and Invisible Disabilities Abroad
Students with disabilities (mental or physical) can and do study abroad. The most important step in finding the perfect program for you is informing your Education Abroad Advisor early of your ability concerns. We can work with our partner programs and the Student Access Center to accommodate your needs as best as we can. It is important to note that accessibility laws vary across countries, and accommodation services may be different overseas. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not travel with you, but try not to let this discourage you. It is also important to note that you cannot be denied admission to a program based on your ability. Not every program works for every student, and there may be some locations that aren’t a good fit.
For students with anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, or other disorders, the level of on-site staff support a program offers might be just as important as location. If this is a concern for you, ask your Education Abroad advisor about programs that offer the most on-site support. If you regularly see a therapist of physician, get their input. They might be able to offer a long-term preparation plan and guidance for how to navigate your particular ability level while abroad.
At any time before, during, or after your travel abroad, you may contact the K-State Student Access Center by phone at 785-532-6441, by video phone at 785-370-0431, or by email at email@example.com. If you do not feel comfortable informing your Education Abroad advisor of your disability or struggles with mental health, it is strongly recommended that you at least inform someone at your host university.
Things to Consider
As you are researching different programs and locations, ask yourself questions to help you narrow down your search. It is important that you choose a program that satisfies your academic or personal goals, but also a program that is willing and ready to support you while you are there. Some questions to keep in mind:
- How does the host country view and treat people with disabilities? Are there laws similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act?
- Does the host university have a Student Access Center equivalent?
- Of the accommodations that I use at K-State, are there any that I can/would sacrifice?
- Is public transportation readily available in the host country?
- Will I be taking a service dog with me? Are there regulations (quarantine, size limits, etc.) that my host country requires?
- Talk to your doctor about your medications and whether you will have access to them while abroad.
Resources beyond K-State
- Mobility International is a cross-disability organization serving those with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision, and other disabilities. Its mission is to empower people with disabilities to achieve their human rights through international exchange and international development.
- The Resource Library through Mobility International is a good spot to find articles specifically related to study abroad or a certain type of disability.
- Abroad with Disabilities provides resources, articles, and opportunities to connect with other people with disabilities than have travelled abroad.
- IFSA-Butler’s UNPACKED Student Stories provide blogs and articles from current students about a variety of topics