Preparing to Study Abroad as a Student With a Disability

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Hadeel Hossam

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29 September, 2021

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4 mins read

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If you’re about to study abroad, you must have a ton of questions in mind. Many students worry about the thought of studying abroad because they are used to their current environment and lifestyle, but with the right preparation, you can do anything, and we’re here to help you with that! Here is a guide to help you prepare to study abroad as a student with a disability.

How to Prepare to Study Abroad as a Student with a disability?

1. Research Your Destination

If your heart is still not set on a certain study destination, you need to do your fair share of research before making the choice. You should focus your research on finding a city that is highly accessible while keeping in mind that the term ‘accessible’ means different things in different cultures. That’s why you should dive deep into each country or city you’re interested in studying in to find out their view of accessibility to see if it works with you. Don’t forget to research resources, organizations, and overall disability-friendly infrastructure in the cities you’re aiming for.

2. Communicate With Your University

Once you’ve chosen your study destination, the research does not stop there, you need to also look for the ideal universities for disabled students. Start by researching scholarships for people with disabilities that can offer you the necessary financial and academic support. Prioritize universities that offer proper accessible facilities as well. Once you’ve chosen your university, there are still some steps to be taken in preparation which we’ll get into in detail below.

  • Disclose Your Condition

Most students experience feelings of concern regarding disclosing their condition, however, try to not think that way.The concerns usually stem from thinking you won’t be eligible to study abroad or for privacy reasons when in fact it won’t have any effect on your chances to travel. As for privacy, universities are obligated to protect it at all costs. In fact, in the US, there’s an entire law dedicated to such an issue. The disability information you disclose is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As for other countries, it should be part of your research to look for disability rights in the country you chose.

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  • State Your Expectations & Needs

One of the important advantages of disclosing your condition to your university is that you can freely express your needs and the university can do its best to accommodate you. They can help you with things like finding accessible accommodation, transportation from and to campus as well as how to get around the city safely. 

  • Enquire About Your Program & University Services

 The final step you should take while contacting your university is enquiring about the study program you signed up for. Some universities even have specially tailored educational programs for disabled students and may even offer e-learning options. Find out what you will be required to achieve and how it can be adjusted to accommodate your learning needs. You can even contact your lecturers and instructors to get to know more about the courses and how they can assist you to enjoy and succeed in your studies. You can also enquire about the university services and facilities for disabled students. Most universities have an office for inclusiveness and it offers counselling and mental health services.

3. Prepare Adaptive Equipment

As part of your preparation to study abroad as, you need to put into consideration the adaptive equipment you’ll need. You need to think on a long-term basis as well to cover the whole time studying abroad. Try to find compact versions of your adaptive equipment to make it easier to carry and move around with. If you use a power wheelchair, for example, it’s best to switch to a manual one for your study period. Things like a shower chair and other equipment can go a long way in making your life abroad easier. Don’t forget to also research adaptive items stores and repair shops in your new city in case you need something fixed or replaced.

4. Find Support In A Community

When you study abroad, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, lonely, and homesick sometimes. That’s why your research should include finding the local student community so you can seek their help when needed as well as overall support. Local organizations can also provide a supportive space to seek guidance in anything you might need. Being part of a community will give you a sense of belonging that will help you get through the tough times as well as enjoy the good ones to the max. 

Study Destinations with Accessible Facilities

We’ll let you do your own deep research of course, but we’ll give you a bit of a preview of your options regarding ideal study destinations as a student with a disability. The UK is one of the top study destinations overall, and UK universities are obliged by law to have campuses that are accessible and inclusive. This entails providing the necessary services and support as well as changing certain rules and practices to accommodate you. As for the USA, it has The Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 which also means that all educational institutions must make necessary arrangements for students with disabilities. There’s also Germany, which is becoming the most accessible country in the world, making it an ideal study destination for disabled students. Include countries like Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Ecuador, Denmark, Scandinavia, and Sweden in your research and you’ll find them to also be great options.

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How to Find Accessible Student Accommodation on Casita? 

Once you’re done with your research and have your heart set on a city, it’s time to think about your student accommodation. It’s important you choose accommodation with accessible amenities, room types and communal areas so that you have your needs met easily. Casita has got you covered on this step of your research, all you have to do is enter your city’s name in our search bar, filter the properties by clicking facilities then ticking the ‘accessibility’ box. You’ll then have an array of options laid out in front of you to choose from the most suitable one. Don’t forget to consider factors like distance from campus and transportation.

Now that you know all there is to know about preparing to study abroad as a student with a disability, it’s time to take that leap and dive into the journey of a lifetime. Just remember that it’s okay to feel worried along the way, just try to list all your concerns and address them to reassure yourself. Don’t forget that good, thorough preparation and research will eliminate most of your worries and concerns, so don’t neglect it.


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