Loyola University Chicago

Services for Students with Disabilities

Study Abroad

Build your resume, gain confidence, and study abroad!

Students with disabilities are absolutely encouraged to take advantage of the many study abroad opportunities available for Loyola students. If you are thinking that you want to add a global aspect to your college experience, then SSWD, Office of International Programs (OIP), and the John Felice Rome Center (JFRC) would love to work with you to help make your study abroad goals a reality. Check out the following tips to prepare yourself for study abroad, and for resources for funding, click here.

Tips for a successful study abroad experience:

Before going abroad

1. Plan your trip early in advance. Begin planning 9-12 months before departure in order to ensure that all study abroad-related bases are covered.

2. Ask questions! For some suggestions on things to consider while studying abroad, Diversity Abroad offers these questions to ask yourself and your advisers:

  •  How are people with my disability viewed abroad?
  •  How should I respond if people give me unsolicited help?
  •  Am I willing to disclose my disability to others?
  • How accessible are places in my host country?
  •  Will my disability prevent me from participating in certain excursions because of inaccessibility?
    • For a more complete list of items to consider before studying abroad, check out this checklist from the Independent Living institute to help you determine your site's accessibility. 

3. Research countries and programs to learn about accessibility rights and laws overseas. Depending on where you study abroad, it is possible that you will experience differences in legal coverage and cultural perspectives of your disability, and you should be knowledgeable of these differences before you depart. Check out the following resources for more info:

  • This list from UNM's Access Abroad website provides an overview of disability attitudes and legislation by country.
  • Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund maintains a country-based list of international disability rights laws and publishes news about changing legislation.
  • The World Health Organization's most recent edition of the World Report on Disability offers a plethora information on the current picture of disability around the globe. Check out Chapter 6: Enabling Environments in particular for relevant information on global accessibility.

4. Attend study abroad fairs hosted by OIP. Talking with other students who've studied abroad may help you plan your trip.

  • To stay updated on OIP's study abroad-related events, check out their Facebook and Upcoming Events pages regularly.

5. Remember that the closer to your departure date that you request accommodations, the harder it will be to secure them. If you wish to receive accommodations, make sure to disclose your disability as soon as you have been accepted into a study abroad program. You cannot be denied admission to study abroad based on a disability.

While abroad

1. For immediate concerns, talk to your on-site staff. Besides being the quickest resource to get in contact with, they are also the most knowledgeable about what to do in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, they are there to advocate for you in the event that you experience any disability-related concerns, so make sure to let them know if you experience any problems.

2. Make sure to keep in contact with your advisers at Loyola. Study abroad advising doesn't end when you are about to board your plane; you can always call or email OIP or SSWD for additional assistance while abroad.

3. Stay flexible and keep and open mind - what may be perceived as a barrier can have a simple, creative solution. For accommodations in particular, depending on the accommodation and the study abroad program, there may not be the same, exact accommodation at your study abroad site that you have at Loyola. This is why it is important to disclose your disability as soon as possible in order to have sufficient time for your study abroad staff to determine appropriate accommodations for you. In cases like this, your on site staff will work to find an appropriate substitute for a specific accommodation.

4. Have fun! Make sure to take part in field trips and excursions, do some travelling on your own, and talk to locals to know more about the area. Make the most of your time abroad by getting out and exploring!

Returning home

1. Coming back from your study abroad location and readjusting to life at home can be a difficult experience, but your Loyola advisers are here to help. Begin by reviewing the handbook published by OIP for returning students.

2. Share your experience! OIP offers plenty of opportunities to share your experience with others - through completing the post study-abroad survey, entering the Photo and Video Contests, and joining the international club. You can also sign up online to be a Student Contact and have the option to give your own study abroad perspective, such as studying abroad with a disability, at OIP events or info sessions.

3. Talk with OIP and the Career Center about integrating your study abroad experience into your resume. During your semester abroad, you most likely developed or honed a variety of skills and competencies that might be cross-cultural, industry-specific, or transferable, so consider revising your resume to include these new skills.

Resources for Funding: