Resource Library

Tip Sheets
Hands holding an iphone with speech accessibility options on screen.

5 Essential iPhone Apps for Blind or Visually Impaired Travelers

Blind Square

This connects with your iPhone's GPS functions to bring you live vocalized information about where you're at and where you're going. Open the application and let it run in the background, as it tells you the street you're walking on, addresses that you pass, cross streets, and landmarks of interest. Do searches for the nearest breakfast spot or the convention center, and Blind Square will help get you there. It is excellent for getting oriented to a new place, or just getting the name of that street when there is no one around.

Tip Sheets
Volunteer to India smiles widely with arched entryways behind

What’s Your Volunteer Abroad Style?

To make the most out of your service abroad, it’s important to carefully examine your interests and skills, and your openness to partner with community members abroad who will have different perspectives. While it is not your role as a volunteer abroad to swoop in and save the day by helping others, neither should it be a situation where you are sidelined from participating because no one thought to plan for disability access. After all, interdependent partnerships rely on recognizing the contributions of everyone.

Tip Sheets
Faculty-led study abroad group to Italy

Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

It is important to know your rights, your responsibilities, and what is guiding the current practices of study abroad programs. There are good reasons for providing accommodations but you also need to look at the entire program to gauge accessibility and be clear and realistic about what programs can deliver.

Tip Sheets
Power wheelchair user with breathing machine seeks assistance from another person.

Tips on Traveling with a Ventilator or Breathing Machine

When traveling internationally, you may need electrical converters/adaptors for respiratory equipment. Also airline personnel may request detailed information about its operation and use. Know your settings and how to do basic setup and problem-solving, and learn other tips for traveling safely.

Tip Sheets
Hands giving thumbs up and thumbs down

DOs and DON'Ts of Fundraising

DOs

Convey courtesy and respect.

Remember to say “thank you” throughout the process of requesting funds, even if a potential donor can’t offer funds.

Tip Sheets
Money spills out of a jar labeled "My travel fund"

Fundraising 101

You can build a community of support through fundraising, especially when it comes to opportunities that will advance your personal and professional goals. Family members, friends, teachers, local businesses and nonprofits can all work with you to help make your dream a reality. Kick off your fundraising efforts with these ideas.

Tip Sheets
Money in a padlock

How to Choose a Budget-Friendly Exchange Program

Research the cost of living in cities worldwide.

Depending on the exchange rate, you may want to select a location where the rate works in your favor. In general, towns and small cities are usually more affordable than large cities.

Consider going to non-traditional locations.

Costs for programs in Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, or Southeast Asia are often lower than in Western Europe, Japan and Australia. And, even better, studying in these locations may also increase your chances of getting a scholarship!

Tip Sheets
Exchange staff smiles with blind youth

High School Exchange Programs at the U.S. State Department

The full participation of youth with disabilities in international exchange is a critical step in increasing independent living skills, accessing post-secondary education opportunities, and pursuing competitive employment. International exchange also provides an understanding and respect for other peoples and cultures, cross-cultural competencies, including foreign language proficiency, and a true global perspective.

Tip Sheets
Annie who is hard of hearing volunteered in Ghana

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Participants in International Exchange

The experience of being in a completely new environment, disability or not, can be very challenging. As a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, these new environments may present communication challenges that you haven’t experienced before.

Tip Sheets
African American man in a manual wheelchair strolls along with others in Japan

What To Do When Insurance Doesn't Cover It

Participants who receive funding for a personal assistant through Medicaid or other government support are not able to use that funding once outside their home country. Travel insurance companies typically do not pay for personal assistants for daily care overseas or durable medical equipment that is not related to a first occurrence of an illness or injury overseas.

Since these costs are unlikely to be covered for people with existing needs, exchange programs or institutions should work with a participant to cover the costs.

Tip Sheets
Two people in conversation near railing of a ship on the ocean, photographed from above. The young man is seated in a wheelchair.

Does Medicaid or Medicare Cover Me Abroad?

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.

Tip Sheets
Woman getting henna painted on the palm of her hand

Why Pre-Existing Conditions Matter in Insurance

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.

Tip Sheets
Hard of Hearing woman asking a question

Negotiating Your Accommodations

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.

Tip Sheets
German sheppard service dog takes a break and looks intently at its owner

Caring for Your Guide Dog or Service Animal Abroad

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.

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