Students With Disabilities Deserve to Study Abroad

One of the advantages of attending NYU is the opportunity to study abroad at one of NYU's global sites for a semester or a year.    

These programs are offered to students to give them the chance to travel outside of the Washington Square campus where they can explore a different city and culture while studying at the NYU campus there. Students can also travel to other countries or cities nearby their study away site, which is most students favorite perk of studying abroad. Studying abroad is a great privilege, as it allows for students to experience a different world away from home while also being able to continue their studies. NYU along with many other colleges have used study abroad programs as a way for students to be able to travel around the world along with enriching their perspectives with different histories, different backgrounds, and different cultures.

Whenever I talk to my friends who have studied abroad, they always tell me about how different American culture is compared to the culture that they experienced abroad. Study abroad was something that didn’t cross my mind at all originally, but hearing their stories increased my interest in applying for studying abroad at sometime during time at NYU. Now, it’s finally happening: I am going to NYU London for the upcoming fall semester. Study abroad seems daunting, but it’s an opportunity that I may not be able to get again in the future. I wasn’t sure about studying abroad because I was afraid of not being able to step up to the challenge due to my hearing loss. Fortunately, my friends and family encouraged to apply, as it would give me an experience that I can share with many people along with bringing my perspective as a deaf student. My fears went away a little as my disability advisor at the Office for Students with Disabilities helped me fill out the necessary paperwork that I would need for the next fall semester and smoothed out any bumps that I may come across in the future. As I went through the process, it made me wonder: how many students with disabilities have been able to study abroad during their college career?

According to the U.S. Department of State, the percentage of students with disabilities studying abroad has increased from 2.6% in 2006-2007 to 8.8% in 2015-2016. This percentage has been increasing steadily as more students with disabilities are expressing the desire to study abroad. This is something promising for these students, but there are still barriers and fears that might stop them from considering to take the chance to study in a different country. One thing is the amount of access that students with disabilities will have when they go to another country. Every country may not have the same resources that the students can access easily in the United States. Disability is a spectrum, which means the range of access can vary depending on the disability of the student. Some countries may not be accessible enough for students, which reveals the importance of the specific program students should choose. This might dampen the plans of some students, but colleges along with outside programs are working together to make this a possibility for students with disabilities. Due to these partnerships, more resources are opening up for students with disabilities, along with providing more options that students can take advantage of.

To have a successful experience studying abroad, both sides of the program, the college and the student, have to work together. Some schools have never had a student with a disability study abroad, but that can change by starting the conversation. If a student is interested in studying abroad, they should self-advocate for the accomodations and the resources that they will need for their study abroad experience. The college will appreciate that a student is being upfront about their disability while showing that they are capable of being independent at a capacity. This will also help the school. along with the Office for Students with Disabilities, to provide the best possible options for students. That means finding the best programs, accomodations, internships, and many other opportunities for the student. It may be uncomfortable to disclose about a disability, but it will actually benefit the student, as it will help them find common ground with their university. It will also allow them to express their concerns that the college and program can answer for them.

Accommodations are important for students with disabilities, which will also be needed when they move to their study abroad site. They will be living in dormitories or apartments that are different from what they are used to at their campus at home. Some students will opt for staying with a host family that could help them some needs. Some students will need accommodations outside of their dorms and school life, as they will need to be able to travel on their own. Research is important because it will inform the students of what resources are available and what are not available so they can plan accordingly. They will also need to be proactive in making sure that they have all the equipment necessary to help them, along with making sure to pack extras in case something breaks down. Students will also need accommodations for their classes, which is something that the college is usually responsible for letting professors know about. But, it is better to let the professor know in person, as it will help show the professors that the student is willing to challenge themselves along with being upfront about their disability. It will also help their classes be more enjoyable. Studying abroad can sometimes be overwhelming and can make students homesick. It’s important to make sure communication is available along with having helpful resources available.

Studying abroad can be a scary and nerve-wracking experience, but nevertheless it is one that every student should have. More importantly, students with disabilities deserve to study abroad. It will give them a chance to be independent along with experiencing a different culture and world away from home. There are now organizations that have been set up to help students with disabilities get the information that they need to have a better experience. Organizations such as Abroad with Disabilities and Mobility International USA have more information on studying abroad with disabilities. Colleges are offering scholarships and grants to help support students with disabilities. Slowly more colleges are encouraging students with disabilities to study abroad, which is a good start. The world is still learning to accept people with disabilities, which means some places may not be like the United States. What matters is students with disabilities deserve to be able to go beyond the horizons of their home campus. Studying abroad will help them learn to be independent along with increasing their self-advocacy skills. It will also help boost their self-confidence along with bringing new experiences into their life.

Images: 1 /2 / 3/ 4 / 5 / 6