Bringing the Debate to the Table

Group of colleagues in discussion
Our Forum on Education Abroad conference roundtable session asked "How Far Do You Go to Make it Work?"
March 25, 2015 - March 27, 2015

How do you support education abroad plans for students with disabilities in sites with significant legal, cultural, and logistical barriers? In this Forum on Education Abroad conference roundtable session, participants explored real and perceived barriers using case studies and pointed discussion questions with a goal of identifying solutions and frameworks for future decisions.

Questions included:

  • "Is it realistic to say a student with or without a disability can go anywhere? How do you know if the student has the flexibility, adaptability and problem-solving skills to make adjustments abroad?" For many students with disabilities, this question relates to fundamental issues of rights and personal choice.
  • "How do you advise students when the site they've selected appears to you to not be a good fit? How can you ask the right questions or truly assess if a location will be accessible if you are not at the location?" For many in education abroad, this addresses what informs and limits your responsibility and decisions.

  • Inversely, "how do you reach the students with disabilities that are self-selecting out because they don’t see information about access listed for study abroad locations?" Information listed can be useful and restricting at the same time, and other steps may be needed in turning a student’s doubts and concerns into confidence.

  • "Are the barriers beyond our control? Are the barriers reasons enough to stop or delay a student with disability from participating? What would you change if you had to say yes?" When required accommodations are expensive or challenged by host-country cultural constructs and infrastructure, the practical steps staff can take to accommodate students with access issues comes into question and requires creative problem-solving.

  • “Where do you veer from the beaten path, when to take a different road, and when to stay the course?” This question is more deeply considered through this Roundtable session’s interactive discussions so that solutions better guide future processes.

Read our blog "Committing to Making Non-Traditional Locations Work" to learn more. Want to conduct similiar discussions on your campus or with your organizational staff and partners? Download our handouts for discussion points and questions under Documents below.


  • Michele Scheib, Mobility International USA/National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange

  • Christie Johnson, Academic Programs International (API)

  • Kat Davis, CET Academic Programs

  • Margaret Anderson, Center for Global Education at Augsburg College

Event location: 

New Orleans, Louisana, USA