Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities can and do study abroad. If you have a disability (e.g. a learning disability, a visual impairment, etc.) please inform the Office of Programs for Study Abroad as soon as possible.

If you have serious medical problems, physical disabilities, or learning disabilities, it is in your best interest to notify the study abroad office early on so that we will be aware of your condition and special needs. Because of the stress, change in diet, and different living conditions in a foreign setting, some conditions may worsen while abroad. For example, students with respiratory problems may discover that the quality of the air in certain cities affects them adversely. Likewise, students with a history of mental health difficulties, alcohol or drug problems, or an eating disorder may find that the stress of adjusting to a new culture exacerbates their problem.

It is important to keep in mind that many foreign countries do not have the same accessibility laws as in the United States. Therefore it is imperative that you inform the study abroad office of your needs and/or concerns so that they can be of assistance, if necessary. If special accommodations for a physical disability or learning disability are needed, it is very important to inform the study abroad office in a timely manner as it may take a considerable amount of time to arrange.

The Access Abroad web-site at the University of Minnesota has many useful tips, considerations, and suggestions for students considering study abroad as well as interesting profiles of students who have studied abroad.

Some of their QUICK TIPS for students with disabilities going abroad are:

  • Disclose your disability needs to program staff early, so appropriate arrangements can be made in advance.
  • Remember that other cultures may provide disability access in a different way--learn about what types of accommodation are typically provided in your host country, and be flexible and open to different ways of accommodating your disability.
  • Before you go, find out as much as you can about your host culture and how they view disability by reading, talking to other students, and attending pre-departure orientation sessions. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the interaction between your disability and the new environment.
  • Think about how you will answer questions about your disability in the language of your host country--look up key vocabulary words ahead of time.

For more information, including helpful links, articles, and resources for any travel abroad with a disability, please see:

This information has been provided in collaboration with Purdue’s Disability Resource Center of the Office of the Dean of Students. Students are also encouraged to use Adaptive Programs as a resource:

Disability Resource Center

Purdue University
Earnest C. Young Hall Building
8th Floor, Room 830
155 South Grant Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907

(765)-494-1247 V/TTY
(765)-496-3759 Fax 
DRC website