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Study Abroad

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities can study abroad. Planning is the key to success. Attitudes, accessibility, and accommodation for students with emotional, mental, learning, or physical disabilities will vary around the world. Think about how you will manage these differences and seek as much information as possible before you depart.


Ask Yourself

  • What are my reasons for studying abroad? What goals do I have? How will I achieve them?
  • Will my disability affect which programs I consider?
  • Will I disclose my condition to either my program or the Study Abroad Office?
  • Note: Pre-existing health conditions and/or disability considerations are not factored into application decisions. However, it is important that you think about these considerations early in the process, even before acceptance into a program. Our first priority is to help you have a safe and positive experience abroad!
  • How will I plan ahead to manage my condition before going abroad?
  • How will I adjust to living in a foreign country? (Re: housing, food, culture, language, etc.)
  • What barriers might I encounter (both in planning to go abroad, and while abroad), and how will I overcome them?
  • If I utilize academic, medical, psychological, or other resources at Northwestern, will I utilize resources abroad? Where can I find the resources I need?

For additional resources:


Tips for Students with Disabilities Going Abroad

  • Disclose your disability needs to program staff early, so appropriate arrangements and reasonable accommodations can be made in advance.
  • Remember 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.