Every country has a different attitude towards people with disabilities. For example, in the U.S., independence is highly valued, but in some other countries, people assume that those with disabilities want or need help.
Once you’ve been accepted into a program and if you are willing to disclose your disability, talk with your study abroad advisor or program director. Find out more about how people with disabilities are perceived in your host country. This will help you know what to expect in terms of discrimination as well as accessibility abroad.
Remember that your host country’s attitudes towards people with disabilities may be drastically different from what you’re used to in the U.S. You might see this in the way people treat you and in the kinds of resources available to you abroad.
Don’t let these challenges dissuade you from studying abroad. By living in another country, you’ll gain a new perspective on how other cultures treat people with disabilities. Your experiences abroad will help you grow and give you an appreciation of everything you have at home.
Must Ask Questions for Students with Disabilities:
- How are people with my disability viewed abroad?
- How should I respond if people give me unsolicited help?
- Am I willing to disclose my disability to others?
- How accessible are places in my host country?
- Will my disability prevent me from participating in certain excursions because of inaccessibility?
Tips for Students with Disabilities:
- Talk with other students with disabilities and learn about their experiences abroad.
- Let your counselor or program director know about your disability, if you are comfortable doing so, so that as many accommodations as possible can be made.
- Keep in mind that places abroad may not be as accessible as you are used to.
- Remember that people with disabilities may be treated differently than you are accustomed to. Research before you go so you have some idea of what to expect.
- Be flexible and think creatively about how you can accommodate your disability abroad.
Author: Diversity Abroad Community