Students with Disabilities
Having an illness or disability should not immediately deter you from studying abroad. Although it is possible that your condition might make it impossible for you to leave the immediate access to health care that you have in the United States, it is also possible that there is a program that, with the right preparation and planning, might be able to accommodate all of your needs. The following is a list of resources that might be helpful for students who have a disability or illness but are interested in studying abroad:*
- How students with disabilities can study abroad
- One student discusses her experience with dealing with dyslexia abroad
- Things to consider before going abroad with a disability
- Tips for studying abroad with a physical disability
- Studying abroad while dealing with chronic pain
On Being an ALLY to People with Disabilities
It is perfectly possible that you will end up studying abroad with someone who has a disability, or you will encounter people with disabilities on your travels. For people who have visible disabilities, it can be easy to assume that they lead a difficult life that is less fulfilling than yours, which can lead you down the path of feeling sorry for them. To be an ally for a person with a disability, pity is not the answer. People want understanding and compassion, but they need to be recognized as equals, and part of being an ally to people with disabilities is making sure that you do not treat them as inferior.
Although some people have obvious or visible disabilities, other people have illnesses or conditions that are not immediately apparent or visible. It is wise to refrain from making any ableist jokes or comments—even if no one has a disability who is within earshot, making those kinds of comments perpetuate an ableist culture and dehumanize people with disabilities.
If someone confides in you that they have a disability or illness, it can be a little bit confusing to know exactly how to respond or behave. You want to find ways of being supportive and helpful without making the person feel as though you are taking away their independence, pitying them, or making them feel ashamed of their need for help. The following sources provide information about how to be an ally toward people with disabilities, both visible and invisible:*
- General tips for being an ally to a person with a disability
- More ways to be an ally to people with disabilities
- Being an ally to a person with an invisible illness
- One author discusses why pity is not helpful
- “Helpful” things that really aren’t helpful for people with disabilities
Diversity Abroad - Student with Disabilities Abroad
University of Minnesota - Students with Disabilities
NorthWestern University - Accessibility Abroad
NorthWestern University - Tips from Students with Disabilities
Abroad With Disabilities - Resources and Support for Students with Disabilities
*Guilford College is not responsible for the content of these links and has not screened them for validity. Readers should be advised that there could be strong content or sensitive material within them. They have been included here because they may be a valuable resource for personal knowledge. Reader discretion is advised.