Learning Disability and ADD/ADHD Questions
Questions for students with learning disabilities and ADD/ADHD to consider when planning for study abroad
Since many students receive academic credit at their home institutions for study abroad, it is important for them to be able to access the same level of learning as at home. When preparing to participate in an overseas program, the following are suggested questions to ask U.S. and overseas study abroad program staff and faculty, as well as your U.S. disability service provider, vocational rehabilitation counselor, and/or clinical specialists.
The following questions are grouped according to whom to approach first for information. If possible, it would be beneficial to ask all of these questions in a joint meeting with study abroad and disability-related staff. While study abroad staff may know more about the overseas situation, disability-related staff may have more ideas about alternative accommodation possibilities and explanations of the U.S. system of providing accommodations that could add insight to the discussion. The answers to the questions may be different for different study abroad programs as determined by such factors as:
a) the binding relationship between the staff in the host country and staff in the United States
b) the cultural value differences, educational systems and environment of the host country
Therefore, the following questions may not be relevant to all types of study abroad programs or all types of learning disabilities. Please use these as suggested guides in planning for a successful overseas experience.
In This Tipsheet:
I use the following disability-related accommodations and services at my home university (e.g. tutor, note taker, extra time on tests, alternative formats for assignments, flexible scheduling, quiet space for testing, adaptive software, etc.):
Can the same accommodations and services be provided for me overseas? If not, what similar accommodations and services can be provided that still fulfill my needs?
Is the same technology (e.g. computers equipped with spell and grammar check or adaptive software) available in the host country as in the United States?
If so, will I be able to access the technology? Are there any fees or time limits on my use of it?
If not, what alternative accommodations and services can be provided that still fulfill my needs?
If I bring my own computer or equipment, is the electricity reliable? Voltage similar? Are buildings and other facilities secure?
What documentation is needed to get these accommodations or services?
How far in advance do I need to notify the overseas program staff in order to request accommodations?
If I go to a non-English speaking country, how will this affect the availability of services I can access?
If necessary, who will pay for my accommodations, tutors or other services?
What would be a good strategy in explaining my disability to professors, homestay families or others in the host community when they might have a different definition or no awareness of my disability?
If I am going to a non-English speaking country, what vocabulary do I need to know in the local language to explain about my disability and accommodation needs?
Who can I rely upon if I have questions about my accommodations or services? Who will be my contact person overseas?
Will there be a contact person for me to work with who is familiar with US legislation regarding the provision of accommodations and services to students with disabilities?
What grievance-related systems can I make use of if I run into resistance regarding the provision of appropriate accommodations?
Does the host university or community have professional disability service specialists or are there sources of informal support available to international students?
When will the accommodations and services I requested be available?
Will at least one English-speaking staff person be available who is qualified to read and interpret my testing report [for Learning Disabilities] / clinical history [for ADD/ADHD]?
How will appropriate faculty or staff be informed of my accommodation needs? Will my contact person act as my liaison in explaining any necessary concepts to faculty and staff abroad or will this be my responsibility?
What is the policy for the overseas staff regarding confidentiality about my disability? Will specific information regarding my disability be shared only on a "need to know" basis?
What materials should I collect overseas about my course work to show my advisor? If I have questions about my grades, whom should I ask?
How is the classroom setting and physical environment in the host country different from my home university? (For example, some countries have more activity in their streets and less insulated walls, so classrooms may be louder and more distracting than what is expected in the U.S.).
Will there be quiet spaces available on campus or in my living situation where I can study and do my homework?
How is the instruction/assignments different from the U.S. educational system? (For example, some classes require little reading or a lot of note taking. Others may provide suggested reading lists for self-study instead of assigned readings to focus on for tests).
If it's a group program, how many students will be participating? Will faculty be available to answer questions outside of class or after a field trip?
Will tutors be available? If so, will they be English-speaking? How do I arrange for a tutor?
What are the hours of the classes, and will there be time for breaks?
How much of the program will be experiential vs. classroom learning? Will the educational style be student-focused learning or teacher-centered lecturing? What methods do the foreign language teachers use?
If my classes are taught in a foreign language, how might this affect my accommodation needs?
Can I use Vocational Rehabilitation dollars in a similar way abroad? For example, if VR pays for my textbooks at home, will they pay for my textbooks overseas? What reimbursement procedures should I be familiar with?
The following is a selection of learning disability organizations with a focus on those that can provide international contacts. For additional resources in a specific country, please contact these organizations or ask NCDE.
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 534-3700 or (800) 433-5255
Fax: (202) 534-3731
The Arc is a national organization that provides information and resources about training programs for people with cognitive and mental disabilities.
KEYAKI is a parent-led organization devoted to defining and finding solutions for the broad spectrum of learning disabilities, and is the largest non-profit volunteer organization in the Tokyo metropolitan area, advocating for individuals with learning disabilities.
c/o Timothy Hart
The Centre for Developmental Disability Studies
PO Box 6
Ryde NSW 1680 AUSTRALIA
ALDA provides information and resources for people with learning disabilities and their families, as well as for educators and the general public of Australia.
Unit 8 Bracknell Beeches
Old Bracknell Lane
Bracknell, RG12 7BW UNITED KINGDOM
Helpline: (44) 845-251-9002
Tel: (44) 845-251-9003
Fax: (44) 845-251-9005
BDA offers advice, information and help to families, professionals and dyslexic individuals in the United Kingdom. BDA also operates a "helpline" (via telephone and email) that can provide referral to dyslexia organizations throughout England and in many other countries.
Campion House, Green Street, Kidderminster
Worcestershire DY10 1JL UNITED KINGDOM
Tel: (44) 1562-723010
Fax: (44) 1562-723029
BILD is an organization for people with learning disabilities in England. Its website has information on learning disabilities and links to other resources.
8181 Professional Place, Suite 150
Landover, MD 20785
Tel: (301) 306-7070 Fax: (301) 306-7090
CHADD is an advocacy group for people diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. To contact a Health Information Specialist at the National Resource Center on AD/HD, a program of CHADD, with a question or request for information, see http://www.help4adhd.org/info_request.cfm. The CHADD website also contains helpful information about ADD/ADHD and links.
Knowledge Dock, 2nd Floor, Room 3
University of East London, Docklands Campus
London E16 2RD GREAT BRITAIN
Inclusion International is a grassroots organization that advocates internationally for the full inclusion of people with intellectual (developmental) disabilities in all aspects of society.
40 York Road, 4th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21204
Tel: (410) 296-0232
Fax: (410) 321-5069
This organization is specific to people with dyslexia. They offer information and referral and the website contains information and resources about dyslexia.
4156 Library Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
Tel: (412) 341-1515
Fax: (412) 344-0224
LDA is a national nonprofit organization providing information and referral services for people with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and others.
250 City Centre Avenue, Suite 616
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 6K7 CANADA
Tel: (613) 238-5721
Fax: (613) 235-5391
Learning Disabilities Association of Canada advocates for people with disabilities in Canada, with branch offices throughout the country. The website is in English and French, and provides links to a variety of different learning disability organizations and resources in Canada and internationally.
1156 15th Street, Suite 1001
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: (202) 296-0800
Fax: (202) 728-3053
Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) is dedicated to promoting the human rights and full participation in society of people with mental disabilities worldwide. Based in Washington DC, MDRI documents conditions, publishes reports on human rights enforcement, and promotes international oversight of the rights of people with mental disabilities. MDRI cannot assist with individual direct service requests, legal advice, or financial assistance; visit the resources page to learn more about organizations that can provide direct assistance.
381 Park Avenue South, Suite 1401
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 545-7510 or (888) 575-7373
Fax: (212) 545-9665
National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. provides national information and referral services, educational programs, public outreach and advocacy on behalf of children and adults with learning disabilities. The website offers links to a variety of U.S. learning disability resources at the national and state level.
The World Dyslexia Network Foundation aims to provide information, international contacts and links by putting organizations, researchers, practitioners and all those seeking information in touch with each other, helping them to share their knowledge and experience for the benefit of dyslexic people everywhere. WDNF does not have funding for projects, but provides a forum to share information and international contacts. WDNF can provide contacts in several countries via email, and will eventually have this information available on the website.
Although efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, MIUSA/NCDE cannot be held liable for inaccuracy, misinterpretation or complaints arising from these listings. Mention of an organization, company, service or resource should not be construed as an endorsement by MIUSA/NCDE. Please advise NCDE of any inaccuracies you may find.