If you are a Medicaid recipient, you may be dropped from enrollment in the medical plans if you do not keep a U.S. state residence or address or if you lose your SSI eligibility (see our tipsheet on "SSI, SSDI & International Exchange" for more). Loss of enrollment creates a gap of coverage upon return home from traveling abroad, especially if the travel health insurance does not cover you in your home country.
When David Berube stood in front of a classroom of twenty Thai students and asked if they knew anyone who had HIV or AIDS, not a single hand went up. He felt a rush of fear when Cee, his Thai translator, told the children that Berube had been HIV+ for ten years. “What was going to happen?” Berube wondered. “Were they going to be afraid of getting close to me now that they knew?” All eyes were on him, and for a moment, the room was silent.
Know what options exist or how to plan for health coverage while on an exchange program if you have pre-existing conditions or need ongoing medications and treatment while abroad.
Plans offered to international exchange participants for less than a year of coverage are not fully licensed products so changes to U.S. health laws through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) do not apply. These plans can increase costs, have pre-existing condition exclusions, or deny enrollment to an individual based on health status.
As a deaf or hard of hearing person, you have the right to apply for and participate in any type of international exchange program for which you are otherwise eligible, so look for those which match your interests and goals! International exchange program providers and universities have worked with many participants to arrange sign language interpreters abroad, real-time captioning, CART and other forms of communication access.
The number of students with disabilities participating in study abroad is likely to increase in the coming years - be ready for them! These surveys look at overall satisfaction, disability supports, and participation levels of students with disabilities.
The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows that among U.S. post-secondary institutions, where the disability status of study abroad students is known, 9.2% of study abroad students had disabilities in 2017/18.
Remember that you are your own expert on your disability and how it might impact your participation in international exchange! Recognize that the exchange professionals you are working with may not already be familiar with certain types of accommodations, disability resources, or a country’s level of accessibility. Help in doing thorough research and build effective communication on what access you need.
Learn tips for what to take along from food and supplements to climate considerations. Also suggestions on how to keep your guide dog/service animal healthy while traveling internationally.
As capable as you and your guide dog/service animal may be together, many people with disabilities find the amount of assistance they need when traveling goes up simply because some of the things they count on at home do not exist in this new environment.
In a nutshell, airlines to and from the U.S. must permit dogs and other service animals used by people with disabilities to accompany them on a flight.
By your very presence, and by your active participation in an international exchange experience, you can help challenge negative perceptions. People with disabilities who have traveled abroad have tried a variety of strategies.
Start planning early in contacting governmental offices or guide dog/service animal associations in the destination to learn about regulations, and in getting documentation from your veterinarian and your own physician to make sure all ready and verified.
You are taking the leap to go abroad and naturally you want to bring along your service animal or guide dog on this adventure. However, you may wonder what arrangements will be needed. Or, if bringing your animal companion is a good idea or not. Feral dogs in the destination country and other considerations on how to keep your guide dog or service animal healthy overseas can help when deciding.
From country to country, you will find there are vastly different views on disability that are based on your ethnicity, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, and disability type. Local politics, laws, geographic setting (rural versus urban), existing services for people with disabilities, and more add another layer of complexity to disability culture and identity.