Resource Library

Tip Sheets
Close up of black and white butterfly

20 Truths that Every Exchange Participant with a Disability Should Know

  1. Remember the benefits: This experience is an incredible opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge and for personal growth. 
  2. Many of your fears will fade away as the unknown becomes known and you become surrounded by new exciting places, tastes, and friends. 
  3. Know that many people with disabilities have successfully traveled to all parts of the world to study or volunteer and more. Learn from their stories in our Resource Library.
  4. Be realistic about the challenges you may face, as well as open to the possibilities. 
Tip Sheets
Christi Gilson, who is a blind American, explores Hong Kong with cane and local friend

Blind and Low Vision Tips for Going Abroad

You have been accepted to a study, volunteer, or other program abroad. Now what? Here's quick preparation tips and advice upon arrival. From arranging a time for orientation training at the new location to being prepared for different attitudes on disability.

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
Young foreign student with mobility disability talks with an advisor

Knowing What Disability Questions to Ask: Sample Accommodations Forms

Are you advising someone with a disability who is traveling abroad for your volunteer, study or professional program? Do you know what questions to ask to assist them in preparing for travel and living abroad related to their disability?

These access information forms provide starting points to learn more about what may be needed. The advisor guidelines also help know what the individual's responses may mean and what follow-up questions you could ask. Download and adapt these for your own use; it may mean asking fewer questions on the forms and more in face to face conversations.

Tip Sheets
Wheelchair users at the airline ticket counter

Air Travel Tips for People with Disabilities

The logistics of overseas travel can be a challenge, even for the most intrepid traveler with a disability. Experience is an effective teacher to help you learn strategies for handling flights, customs procedures, and other aspects of entering a foreign country.

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
Bahraini and American young men wearing traditional head scarves

Strategies for Addressing Cultural Disability Differences

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.

Tip Sheets
White labador guide dog walks beside its owner

Traveling Internationally with a Guide Dog or Service Animal

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.

Tip Sheets

Global Disability Culture 101

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.

Tip Sheets
At the airport bag screener

Air Travel Tips for Autistic Passengers

If you've been to an airport before, you know that the variety of sounds, lights, and touch at the airport can result in sensory overload! Here's some tips on getting through security, and the bumps of the flight.

Tip Sheets
A young American woman walks along a beach with a dog.

While You're Abroad: Tips by and for Autistic Travelers

Getting ready to land in your final destination? Take some advice from international exchange alumni on the autism spectrum about what they did overseas to make the transition abroad more smooth - and what they wish they had done.

Tip Sheets
A young American man with autism presents to a classroom of Jamaican children.

What Should I Expect in an Exchange Program?

After doing some research and talking to his college study abroad advisor, Jeremiah Swisher learned that there are many different types of international exchange opportunities to choose from. "The group trip to teach in Jamaica over spring break seemed like the best fit for me because it wouldn't interrupt my schoolwork," he says."The idea of traveling with a group of people was much more comfortable than traveling alone."

How you decide which kind of exchange program depends on you and your preferences. What type of international experience would you prefer?

Tip Sheets
A Bahraini man in cultural dress stands with an American man.

Cultural Differences in the U.S. and Abroad

Part of the wonders of traveling include experiencing other people's cultures, including their habits, values, interests, beliefs, and preferences. It takes time for any traveler to learn and adjust to differences in the host culture, and autistic travelers may want to research some specific ways in which the local host culture might impact their routines or preferences. Think about how you might adapt if you traveled to a country that had major cultural differences related to time and punctuality, leisure and schedules, and body language.

Tip Sheets
An assortment of foreign currencies are scattered on a table.

SSI, SSDI & International Exchange

As you investigate all funding possibilities, be sure to keep in mind any income or benefits that you are currently receiving in the U.S. There’s a possibility you may be able to use these towards your international exchange opportunity.

"While preparing to study abroad in England, I was concerned about how much it was going to cost. I was receiving SSI benefits and involved with the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), and remained eligible for the year I was in England." - Beth Ocrant, who has a vision disability

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