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Student Disability Services

Off Campus Study Program

The office of Student Disability Services (SDS) and the Center for Global Education (CGE) provide joint support for students with disabilities who are interested in participating in an off-campus study program. SDS works with any SDS student to plan for potential academic accommodations or other disability-related needs abroad, regardless of disability diagnosis.

Students need to be aware that disability laws differ outside the USA so level of accessibility and accommodations vary among programs and countries; flexibility may be needed. In some situations, transportation, technology, architecture, and overall infrastructure may be inaccessible to people with certain types of disabilities. For this reason, students need to disclose to SDS their disability-related needs as early as possible in the application process.  This allows adequate time to assess needs, determine possibilities, and identify locations that are conducive to the student's disability-related needs, and make any necessary advance arrangements. While students with disabilities are expected to take an active role in initiating a discussion about their intention to participate in an off-campus study program, assistance is available in helping students determine program fit, course selection, and ways in which personal needs might be addressed.

Additionally, traveling abroad with prescription medication can require considerable planning well ahead of time.  Some countries have specific guidelines that must be followed in order to lawfully bring medications into the country.  It can require advance planning and communication with both clinicians and insurance companies to ensure a student has enough medication to last the duration of their program abroad.  For guidance on these processes, it is especially important that students consider engaging in discussion with SDS as soon as possible ahead of a study abroad program.

Each student's situation is unique and must be reviewed on an individualized basis in order to help ensure a successful experience.  It is important for students to engage in an honest self-assessment regarding the disability, to anticipate any potential issues that could occur, and to develop a plan for managing the disability while away from campus. Without appropriate advance planning, there is increased potential for a problematic experience. 

Interested students with disabilities should follow the process below:

  • Register for services through Student Disability Services (SDS) in Jordan Hall 136 if not already registered. 
  • Plan early and communicate individualized needs to SDS so staff can assist throughout the entire application process.
  • Attend orientation and informational sessions hosted by CGE in order to fully research and explore options.  Start gathering information about how disability-related needs will interface with the resources available in particular locations and programs.
  • Participate in individualized planning meetings with staff members from CGE, SDS, and other relevant members of the university community. These meetings are vital in that they assist students in identifying potential areas of concerns and allow for broad discussion between the student and individuals who are experienced in facilitating off-campus services and accommodations for students with disabilities. Meeting(s) will be arranged by SDS after the student provides notification about intent to participate in an off-campus study program.

Students may be asked to sign a written release allowing disclosure of disability-related information to relevant third parties as needed. Depending on the circumstances, this could include sharing information with individuals abroad. Students should be prepared to discuss medical and physical needs, level of support needed, as well as medications that will be needed abroad, so a determination can be made as to whether or not those needs can be adequately met outside the USA.