Identity-Based Resources for Study Abroad: Mobility, Accessibility, and Neurodiversity​

Members of Meredith’s disability community and students with other accessibility, mobility, or neurodiversity considerations have had successful and fun study abroad experiences on Meredith Abroad and affiliate programs every year. While perceptions, attitudes, and infrastructure concerning accessibility and accommodations differ around the world, the OIP is here to advise and support you throughout the study abroad process. 

San Sepolcro

It is important for all students to start the study abroad advising process early to ensure you choose the program that best suits your academic interests and your goals.

When preparing for study abroad, it is important to research cultural norms and behaviors in your host country that may relate to your identities. For example, in the U.S. and in American culture, independence may be highly valued, but in other countries, people may assume a person needs or wants help. Additionally, here in the U.S., the process for seeking accommodations in an academic setting might be familiar to you, but the process may look different in countries with diverse academic systems and cultures.

You may also find that resources available to you abroad regarding accessibility and accommodations differ dramatically from those available in the U.S. For example, in the U.S. the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects disabled people from discrimination and applies accessibility standards to public, commercial, and government spaces. In your host country, you may, unfortunately, encounter microaggressions or discrimination and find at least some accessibility barriers that you generally do not encounter in the U.S.

Prior to departure, conduct independent research, make use of the resources below to hear directly from student voices, and ask your program faculty or affiliate provider for more information so you can be prepared for what to expect in your host country. Speaking with Meredith’s Disability Services office can also be a helpful step.

While study abroad programs and universities abroad are becoming more inclusive of students’ accommodations, you may still face challenges regarding the extent to which accommodations can be put into place abroad, particularly on direct enrollment affiliate programs. For this reason, it is important to disclose to the OIP and/or your provider any accommodations you may have upfront.

If you have more questions about these issues, ask the OIP or the program staff for contact information for a student with a shared experience who has returned from study abroad. Do not hesitate to contact the OIP if you experience microaggressions or discrimination in your host country or within your study abroad group.

Questions to Consider

  • Have I discussed my plans to study abroad with my academic advisor and Disability Services at Meredith?
  • Do I need to communicate any accommodations to the OIP and the study abroad program directors or affiliate program?
  • How might my accessibility considerations impact which program I choose?
  • What kind of academic learning environment is best for me?
  • How are people with my disability or with neurodiversity viewed in my host country?
  • How do I want to respond if people give me unsolicited help? 
  • How generally accessible are places in my host country? 
  • How will I plan ahead to manage my condition when abroad? If I utilize academic, medical, psychological, or other resources at Meredith, how can I utilize resources abroad?
  • Will my disability pose challenges to participating in certain excursions because of inaccessibility abroad?