Studying Abroad with a disability

Studying Abroad with a disability Study Abroad with a disability by sand_is_neon

This article was written by Joel Smith, published on 30th December 2010 and has been read 31615 times.

Studying abroad with a disability is more common than you would think and many people take the plunge to move their studies abroad, and feel better for it. In fact, 10 out of 10 students who went abroad with a disability said they’d recommend others to do the same, according to our survey. Starting your research early and finding out about the universities and the help on offer is the first place to start in your search for your year or semester abroad. Speaking to your home university’s International Office is top of your list. 

Mention to them your particular disability and the help and assistance you may require - most team members will then be able to guide you as to where you should choose to study.Talk to other students with disabilities who have travelled abroad, or ask study abroad staff to put you in touch with someone on site who has a similar disability and can give you firsthand information about the potential barriers and help at hand in that country. Students planning on studying abroad usually have to ask themselves a few questions about why they’re going, what they plan on achieving and how their year will help them in the future. Students with a disability also have to ask themselves how they will respond if people abroad don’t respond well to their disability.
Culture shock, in this sense, can be upsetting and you can feel isolated, which is why it is best to research your options, but with the right amount of planning and determination, you can make your study abroad experience a smooth transition.
Speaking to the course coordinator from the foreign university and fellow students can help make things a little easier, as they’ll be aware of what you may require if you choose to study there. You can also get in touch with the following organisations, European and American, to get an idea of what help is at hand, should you need it, and to find out how accommodating cities are for the disabled:

1. France
Rehabilitation International
BP 34
F-77792 Nemours Cedex
+33 1 644 51841
[email protected]

2. UK
World Blind Union: The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)
224 Great Portland Street
London W1N 6AA
England, UK
tel: +44 207 388 1266
[email protected]

3. Spain
Confederación Española de Personas con Discapacidad física y orgánica
Calle de Luis Cabrera 63
tel: +34 91 744 3600
fax: +34 91 413 1996
[email protected]

4. Italy
Fondazione Handicap Dopodinoi onlus
Borgo Pio 10
00193 Roma
+39 80 609 01009

5. Germany
Brehmstr. 5-7,
40 239 Dusseldorf

6. Czech Republic

World Federation of the Deaf (Central European Regional Secretariat)
Czech Union of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Karlinske Namesti 12
18603 Praha 8, Karlin
Czech Republic
fax +420 2 24 816 829

7. Canada
Disabled Peoples’ International (Headquarters)
DPI, 101-7 Evergreen
Manitoba R3L 2T3
tel: +01 204 287 8010
fax: +01 204 453 1367
[email protected]

8. USA
Mobility International USA
132 E. Broadway
Suite 343 Eugene
Oregon 97401
tel: +1 (541) 343 1284
fax +1 (541) 343 6812.

9. Student Organisation
SKILL, The National Bureau for Students with Disabilities
Chapter House
18-20 Crucifix Lane
London, SE1 3JW.
England, UK
tel: +44 207 450 0620 or 0800 328 5050
fax: +44 20 7450 0650
[email protected]

10. Useful Websites and case studies
Many of the organisations above have websites that list their worldwide member organisations.

11. Accessibility and Transportation
Accessibility varies widely throughout Europe so you should contact local disability organisations for specific information. National tourism offices sometimes have guides for travellers with disabilities, and local transportation departments can advise on their policies. For information see the web site for European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), or contact them directly:
2 rue André Pascal
F-75775 Paris Cedex 16
+33 1 45 24 9710
[email protected]

These are the things you really need to think about before you go so that when situations are tough in another country - and they will be in the beginning - you don’t forget why you were determined to go in the first place. Finding alternatives is all part and parcel of studying abroad in the first place, and more so at times if you have a disability. Bear this in mind, don’t give up and look on the positive side if a hurdle comes about, and you’re sure to have the time of your life. Good luck!

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