Goucher encourages all students who meet our eligibility requirements to consider studying abroad. OIS will work with you regarding any special needs you may have. However, we cannot guarantee that any or all of our program sites can accommodate all of your needs or interests. Please contact OIS for more information on students with different abilities studying abroad. The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange and Mobility International is also available to help assist you regarding your needs and interests.

Information on Traveling Abroad with a Disability

Individual countries have their own standards of accessibility for disabled travelers. Some countries have nondiscrimination laws that help to protect travelers with disabilities, while other countries do not.  Preparation before you go can help ensure that your planned destination will be accessible, safe and enjoyable.  Travelers with disabilities should review the Department of Transportation pamphlets New Horizons for the Air Traveler with a Disability and Plane Talk: Facts for Passengers With Disabilities . Both of these publications are available at the Department of Transportation’s website.  In addition, students with disabilities should consider the following tips, and discuss their intended study abroad program with a physician.

Research in advance: 

Learn about disability support services at individual campuses abroad and ask questions about any outings or field studies that might occur while you're abroad.  Consider the level of health care available, as well as local transportation needs to and from the airport, luggage assistance, and whether other help will be needed to leave the airport terminal.   When making flight reservations, inform the travel agent or carrier of your disability and the equipment you use, and, if necessary, request a wheelchair be brought to the gate upon arrival and any other assistance needed while flying and at the airport.  In all cases, ask that your needs and requests be documented as part of the reservation, and take down the name of the agent.  That way, if there is a problem, you may be able to quickly show that you are entitled to the service you requested.

Seek medical advice: 

Goucher College requires a physician to approve your study abroad experience.  Talk to your physician about the program you've selected, any activities or field studies you have planned and your general physical condition, any immunizations that might be needed, and medications, whether prescription or over the counter, that you might need for your study abroad program.  Carry a letter from your attending physician, describing your medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic names of prescribed drugs.  If possible, have this letter translated into the official language of your host country.

Your medications: 

If you take prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last the duration of the trip, including extra medicine in case you are delayed.  Pack your medication in your carry-on bag, since checked baggage is occasionally lost.  Always carry your prescriptions in their labeled containers, not in a pill pack. 

Documentation of immunizations: 

Take with you proper documentation of immunizations.

Health and Evacuation Insurance: 

If you are on a Goucher-sponsored semester or short-term program, OIS will automatically enroll you in international insurace covering most health and evacuation needs. If you are participating in a non-Goucher program, make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage while abroad, including coverage of medical evacuation (not covered by most domestic policies).  Note that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.

Service dogs: 

Some countries have restrictions on service dogs.  If you intend to travel with a service dog, be sure to check on possible restrictions with the embassy or consulate of each country you will visit.  (This and other country information may be found on each country’s Country Specific Information).  If service dogs are permitted, learn about quarantine or vaccination requirements.  Find out what documents are needed, including international health certificates and rabies inoculation certificates, and if the documents need to be translated.  Talk with your vet about tips for traveling with a dog, and how travel will affect the animal. You may also want to ensure that hotels will accommodate your service dog, and that there will be an adequate area for the dog to relieve itself.

Maintenance on equipment: 

Have a maintenance check done on any equipment you will take with you, to ensure that everything is in working order before you leave.  You may want to research the availability of wheelchair and medical equipment providers in the areas you plan to visit.

Carry written plans: 

Carry with you your written itinerary and directions of where you will be going on your study abroad program. These can be shown to people who might be able to help you if you are lost. 

Additional Tips:

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.

Other resources:

Mobility International, for Students with Disabilities

Access Abroad, hosted by the University of Minnesota

Disability: Making Study Abroad Happen For You, hosted by CIEE

Rolling Rains Report, a blog on travel, disability, and universal design

Society for Accesible Travel & Hospitality