Traveling abroad with physical or mental disabilities presents challenges, but with proper planning students with disabilities can have a positive, rewarding experience abroad. If you have a disability and are curious about studying abroad, please make an appointment to meet with one of our advisors to discuss which options are best suited to your needs. We also encourage students to meet with CU Denver’s Disability Resources Office to discuss considerations for how to succeed on your study abroad program. Mobility International USA and Abroad With Disabilities provide a number of articles and stories about how you can live and study abroad with a disability.
- Get an early start planning your study abroad. Arranging disabilities services while you are abroad can take several months, so planning ahead is highly recommended.
- If you are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you may be able to continue to receive these funds while studying abroad. For more information, read Mobility International’s page on SSI, SSDI, & International Exchange.
- Bear in mind that local attitudes toward disabilities may affect the resources available during your study abroad. The effects of these differences in perception can mean that certain medications are not available, or that you may face different treatment than you would experience in the United States.
- If you plan to study abroad for less than 90 days, many insurance providers will approve a 90-day refill of prescriptions. Communication between your doctor, insurance provider, and pharmacy is key, so be sure to notify them of your travel plans well before you leave.
- Write down the generic name and dosage of any medications you take, in case you need to see a local doctor or pharmacist to have prescriptions filled. Bear in mind that local pharmacies may not have the medication you need, or may not be able to fill your prescriptions due to local law.
- If you have questions about disabilities services, on-site staff may be able to provide you assistance. If you are studying abroad through a third party, be sure to get in touch with their local staff in order to discuss disabilities arrangements. Students studying abroad on CU Denver faculty-led programs should inform their faculty leader of any disabilities that may need to be addressed during your global study program.
- Building a support system is key. If, for example, you struggle with depression, it may be difficult to notice the extent of your illness until it has had a strong impact on your life abroad. In these cases, it can be helpful to inform your friends and on-site staff of symptoms you may exhibit- they may notice them before you do.
- Go into the study abroad experience with an open mind- no amount of preparation will allow you to predict how locals will react to your disability, and you might find that even though a country may not be as physically accessible as the US, locals might be more helpful or less helpful than you anticipate.