Students with disabilities can and do study abroad, and are encouraged to explore their options with their campus EAP advisor
. UCEAP is committed to facilitating a welcoming and reasonably accessible programs abroad, if possible, for students with disabilities.
UCEAP can provide information about possible accommodations and accessible facilities at various study sites and host institutions and their approximate cost. Although UCEAP cannot guarantee the accessibility of study sites, UCEAP can advise students if a particular site appears to be inaccessible and can recommend an alternate site.
Students who anticipate special needs should also contact their campus Disabled Students Office for assistance and advice about participation on UCEAP. Every UCEAP participant, disabled or non-disabled, needs contingency plans.
- Most financial aid can be applied to UCEAP. Many students find that the cost of going abroad is actually comparable to the on-campus costs.
- It is your responsibility to ensure that any funding required for special services abroad is arranged in advance.
- If funding and/or scholarships are not available, you will be responsible for all costs associated with paid accommodations abroad.
- If you disclose needs at the last minute, or require accommodations that cannot be made available in the host country, you may be advised to postpone participation.
- Scholarships are available through UCEAP. Visit the UCEAP Scholarships page.
What are the Essential Steps?
To determine what modifications can be possible, you, your campus disability office specialist, your campus EAP advisor, the Operations Specialist at UCEAP’s Systemwide Office, and the host institution abroad will need to work together to assess your needs and the modification possibilities.
Explore reasonable accommodations
Learn what types of accommodations are possible in your host country, and be flexible and open to different ways of accommodating your disability.
It is best for you to identify several programs that meet their your academic interests, since different UCEAP locations will have different types or levels of accessibility.
Start a budget to cover accommodations abroad and potential sources to cover your expenses (SSI, Vocational Rehab, scholarships, etc.). If you receive funding from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Rehabilitation representative should contact the UCEAP Student Finance Analyst
to identify a payment process.
We encourage you to self disclose early. Talk with your campus EAP advisor and your Disabled Student’s Office about the kind of accommodations you will need. Your campus EAP advisor will work with UCEAP Systemwide to determine whether your accommodation needs can be met. Some accommodations may require a three- to six-months advance notice.
If you are not sure you will use accommodations abroad, it is still important to make potential needs known so that a plan is in place should an unexpected problem arise. Also, early disclosure will help you plan for the funding that you must secure.
Advantages of Disclosure
- Advance preparation for your disability-related needs, including learning about available disability-related access or services and arranging or requesting reasonable accommodations in a timely manner. UCEAP encourages you to disclose early so UCEAP and on-site staff can research necessary logistics and accommodations, if available, to help you have a meaningful, rewarding and safe experience.
- Connections with people in the host community with similar disabilities or to the community of people with disabilities as a whole. You can also find allies within program and disability services offices, the community of people with disabilities, and teachers, administrators and program staff to direct you towards resources such as funding, accommodations and disability organizations.
- The opportunity to increase disability awareness, reverse negative stereotypes, and present positive models of disability to others.
- Reduction in stress that may come with trying to hide a disability, or in worrying who might assist if in a disability-related crisis situation.
- Being proactive about self-advocacy and communicating personal preferences and needs to those around you.
Research the accessibility of each site to determine which destinations best suit your academic and accommodation needs (see the disability sections below for questions to think about when planning). It is not possible to anticipate all concerns, but pre-departure planning will help.
UCEAP cannot guarantee that facilities and/or support services will be available at each location abroad in the same range and quality as on the UC campus. The UCEAP Systemwide Program Specialist will consult closely with you to determine, from your perspective, what you need to be successful abroad.
Make a detailed list of your daily activities and note how any tasks that are affected by your disability are accomplished. For example, if you rely on a friend for assistance, what duties does that person perform, and how will those tasks be accomplished in a new, unfamiliar setting and by someone unfamiliar to you, during the UCEAP program?
Among the resources available are UCEAP returnees who can outline potential challenges and adventures of a host country. Also, visit Mobility International
Study abroad requires adaptability for people with and without disabilities. Living in a new culture will differ. Differences will include disability services, perceptions, and accessibility standards from what you are used to in the U.S. The key for any UCEAP participant is flexibility.
The Disabled Student’s Office, at the student's request, will write a letter documenting the disability and accommodations that student can receive, or is receiving on the UC campus. This is sent to the host university to assess whether similar accommodations can be arranged and the cost, if any, of such accommodations.
It is important for the student to bring a copy of medical documentation abroad, including treatment and medication prescription information. Make copies of all documentation that you submit.
Questions to Ask as Your Student Prepares to Study Abroad
Processing Disabilities (LD, ADHD, Psychological, Brain injuries)
- Will you need note takers for class?
- What are your host university’s policies on extended exam time?
- Is the host university willing to authorize your usual test accommodations based on American medical documentation?
- What tutoring services might be available and at what cost?
- If you need to see a doctor or therapist for psychological concerns while abroad, have you established this contact prior to departure?
- Have you considered bringing a personal recording device for lectures? Do you have permission to record lectures?
- Are books available on tape or CD?
- Who will fund any special accommodations?
Chronic Systemic Disorders
- If you have respiratory problems or severe allergies, what is the air and environmental quality in the city you are considering?
- If your condition is affected by temperatures, what is the climate in your prospective host city?
- What prior notification has been given to the instructors regarding potential absences should your condition flare up unexpectedly?
- Will you need extended time on assignments?
- If you normally receive test accommodations, do you have authorization through the host university to receive the same accommodations there?
- What special dietary considerations might you have?
- If there are extra expenses associated with special accommodations, who will fund these?
Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Will you need an interpreter or Realtime Captioning? Who will fund this accommodation?
- Where/how will the interpreter be hired?
- What is the hourly rate for interpreters in the host country? (Note that interpreter costs vary widely from country to country and within the same country.)
- Does the interpreter know American Sign Language? Sign language is not universal and may differ between countries that have the same spoken language. Students should find out the differences before leaving. It may be possible to depart early to learn the new sign language.
- If you are taking a personal FM system, can you obtain batteries in your host country that work for your device?
- Who will notify your instructor of the need to wear the FM microphone?
- Will you need a note taker?
- Are captioned videos available?
- Who will fund other special accommodations?
- Will you take one or two wheelchairs? Electric or manual?
- Do you need a transformer? Is the voltage in your host country compatible with your transformer?
- How will you ship your chairs abroad?
- Where can your chair be repaired abroad?
- Do you need to make additional arrangements to get from the airport to the orientation site or to your host university?
- Are the streets and/or sidewalks paved or cobblestone? Are there curb cuts for wheelchair access?
- What is the accessibility of the host university and city (elevators, bathrooms, classrooms, housing, transportation, etc.)?
- Is voice recognition software available?
- Will you need note takers, scribes or transcribers?
- What kind of field trips might your program go on? Are they accessible?
- Are lab or library assistants available in your host country?
- Do you need extended time on assignments or exams?
- Who will fund any special accommodations?
- Have you contacted the consulate of your host country to determine if you will need to put your guide dog in quarantine?
- Will special housing or food arrangements be necessary for your dog? Is your dog allowed into the classroom?
- Are alternate formats available? (books on tape, Braille, e-text, scanning, CCTV, etc.).
- Will you need a mobility assistant to help you?
- Have you obtained maps of your host city and enlarged them to become familiar with directions before departure?
- What kind of test accommodations will you need?
- Is there Braille signage on buildings, elevators, classroom, ATMs, etc.?
- Will you have access to computer software in order to write papers or read assignments?
- Who will fund any special accommodations?
Medication and Medical Care Abroad
Before departure, students should consult and have a plan in place with a physician or the travel clinic at their campus Student Health Services about medication management and medical care needs while abroad.
Call the UCEAP Assistance Provider Before Departure from the U.S.
If you take medication, you should inquire if your prescription is legal and available in the host country, or if you will be able to take an extra supply of medication that will last during your stay.
If you will need a doctor or psychologist referral while abroad.
Call the UCEAP assistance provider, Europ Assistance, USA, at 1+866-451-7606 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your UCEAP policy number is ADDN 04834823.
If you are traveling with a personal assistant you must make sure the person has the necessary passport, visa, documentation, insurance, and immunizations for traveling and living abroad. Where will he or she live? (Some programs can only accommodate students.) What kind of funding will he or she need? If students you will need to hire an assistant abroad, find out before departure what steps are needed and what funding will support this cost.