Students with Disabilities
Eastern Illinois University encourages all students to study abroad including those individuals who have disability or accessibility challenges. With the proper planning, study abroad can be a wonderful experience for students with disabilities. We encourage students to start a discussion with their study abroad advisor and their Accessibility and Accommodations Advisor early in the study abroad planning process to assess needs and talk about setting up any on-site accommodations.
As you start to prepare for study abroad, some questions to consider include:
- What study abroad program will best fit your academic needs?
- Which program can provide accommodations for your disability?
- What cultural differences exist that may create barriers to accessibility?
Students should examine their specific needs and accommodations to make sure the program of interest will be able to support them during each part of the program (arrival, orientation, campus life, classrooms, travel, and technology). Once students are abroad, they will need to be realistic about the challenges that may occur. For example, students who are usually very self-sufficient, may realize that they will need more assistance than normal. Students will need to be open, flexible, and be willing to work through any challenges experienced in their new cultural context. Countries outside of the US can sometimes have different laws, regulations, and approaches to disability services so students should be aware of this and consider it in their study abroad planning.
It works best when students proactively reach out to the Accessibility and Accommodations Advisor to discuss their study abroad plans and request letters. This should ideally happen at least 1 month prior to departure if not earlier. The AAA will email the student's accommodation letter to the academic director of the program and will email a copy of the accommodation letter to the student for the student to take with them to their study abroad location. It is the student's responsibility to reach out the academic director and instructors at their program site to make sure the program site got the letter and to discuss their accommodation requirements.
Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund (DREDF)
This organization provides resources on their International Disability Rights page about country-based laws that protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.
IES Abroad: Disability, Mental Health, & Self-Care Resources
This web site offers a range or disability and mental health resources geared towards study abroad students.
Mobility International USA
MIUSA, along with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, manages the National Clearinghouse of Disability and Exchange. MIUSA publishes books and other resources, many of which are free for you to download from its website.
Service Animals Abroad
This Mobility International USA article has steps for bringing your service animal or guide dog abroad.
Transitions Abroad – Disability Travel Resources
This organization posts resources for those who want to live, work, or volunteer abroad, including those will be living abroad with disabilities.
U.S. Department of State- Students Abroad
This web page has information for mobility-impaired travelers by country.
EIU Office of Accessibility and Accommodations
This is the website for the Office of Accessibility and Accommodations.