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Students With Disabilities - Living Abroad

Feb 13, 2014
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Tips For Living Abroad With a Disability

An integral part of studying abroad is to face new challenges, experience a new culture and gain independence. With these new experiences come new sets of challenges but, by taking some proactive measures and making good preparation, students with disabilities can make the most of the opportunities to learn and explore.

This living abroad checklist below will help you to prepare and make the most of your international study program:

  • Read as much as possible about the country or community where you will be living.
  • Learn as much of the local language as possible before you depart, especially in regard to how to communicate about your disability accommodation needs and following directions.
  • Find local doctor or counselor contact information and locations.
  • Contact the country's disability organizations for information on local transportation, support groups, where to buy medicines, equipment rental & transportation, social groups, sports clubs, and local disability rights laws.
  • Prepare for people to offer or physically help you without asking you in your host-country as they may have different attitudes about independence and personal space.  Keep yourself safe and ask for what you need.
  • Communicate with local disability groups about equipment repair locations or other services if needed. Bicycle repair, small engine and other shops may be able to make the repairs you need.
  • Have repair tools and extra parts with you to fix adaptive equipment.
  • Research the local transportation options and what will work for you.
  • Be flexible about your disability accommodations and problem solve with a positive attitude.
  • Find out what you need to know to stay healthy.  Are there certain foods to avoid? Should you drink bottled water? Are there weather trends that may affect your transportation routes or physical being? Is it safe to be out by yourself near your housing or program? Do you know how to use the local telephones for emergencies or do you have a cell-phone that will work in that country? Do you have allergy issues? Do you have enough medication with you? Do you have stress management techniques that you can use?
  • Ask yourself, "What do I need to bring with me from home (adaptive equipment, technology, or medications)?" or "what can I use/borrow/rent/buy there?"
  • Make sure you have the right clothing for yourself and any service animals.

This guide was developed in association with Mobility International USA.
Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.