Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

Faculty-led study abroad group to Italy

It is important to know your rights, your responsibilities, and what is guiding the current practices of study abroad programs.

Good Reasons for Providing Accommodations

  • It reflects a commitment to inclusion and an institution’s international mission.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 operate as a floor, not a ceiling, for programs in making decisions.
  • Many colleges and universities do provide accommodations for students on study abroad simply because they think it is the right thing to do.

Look at the Entire Program to Gauge Accessibility

  • While you must receive meaningful access to essential aspects of the program, this doesn’t mean every single aspect will be accessible.
  • What is reasonable in the United States may look different abroad, and requires diligence by you and the program staff in exploring the options on a case by case basis.
  • The amount of control over the program makes a difference in what the staff, and you, can expect.

Be Clear and Realistic about What Programs Can Deliver

  • Conversations about potential barriers are not meant to discourage you. Realistic expectations make for less frustration and better planning for inaccessible encounters.
  • It is also not meant to scare you – programs have an obligation to prevent harm from coming to you, but you need to understand no program can ensure safety.
  • It’s always a risk and adventure, and with that comes the opportunity to learn and grow, and the dignity in moving forward in what you set out to do.

Source: National Association of College and University Attorneys, NACUA Notes April 26, 2012, Vol. 10, No. 7

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