Resource Library

Personal Story
Emily block wears a Vietnamese-style hat while riding in a boat on a river.

Chronic Adventures at Sea

University student Emily Block has circumvented the globe, hiked in the Amazon, touched a wild cheetah, and danced through Ghana.

Years earlier, when Emily was first diagnosed with a rare chronic illness, such experiences seemed out of reach. Today, it's impossible for Emily to imagine a life without international travel.

"Fourteen countries later, I know that being disabled doesn't mean I have to give up on my dreams."

Personal Story
Ocean and mountains

Going Out and Discovering the World

In many ways, Christy Smith is the ultimate survivor.

She was born premature and weighed just two pounds at birth. When she pulled her breathing tube out as a baby, she became deaf. Later, she became the first Deaf person on reality TV when she starred on the Amazon edition of CBS’ popular reality TV show Survivor. She lasted thirty-three out of thirty-nine days before she was ousted and finished sixth.

Christy is more than just a survivor. She’s also an adventurer, a world traveler, and an advocate for Deaf communities everywhere.

Personal Story
Chinese Temple

At the Temple of Heaven: Studying Abroad in China

Hannah Mann describes herself as independent, a go-getter and a risk-taker. She is also a deaf cochlear implant user who is fluent in Cued Speech and American Sign Language.

She has traveled to China three times, including a semester abroad studying Mandarin at Peking University in Beijing. Her Mandarin studies began when she signed up for a summer class at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Personal Story
Teresa with students in classroom in Ghana

Opening Worlds Through Teaching

As a Harris Wofford Global Service Fellow, Teresa Pichardo was selected to participate in a Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteer program in Ghana. At the school where she worked, Teresa had a chance to work with students who are Deaf like her and open their world.

Tipsheet
A magnifying glass is held to a document labeled "visa."

Visa Considerations for Exchange Participants with Disabilities

Most international exchange participants are issued a J-1 or F-1 visa in order to enter the United States. Most of the rules and regulations for visas are the same for participants with or without disabilities, but there are also some additional considerations that people with disabilities should know. Find out how visa regulations may be impacted by a chronic illness, a pre-existing health condition, or personal assistance.

Tipsheet
Two women are pictured. One of the women is showing the other how to form a particular sign.

Hiring Sign Language Interpreters

What skills and qualifications should you consider when hiring an interpreter for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual? Learn more: from certification and compatibility to travel and foreign language experience.

Tipsheet
A Deaf girl is in the middle of a sign and appears to be asking a question of someone out of the frame of the picture.

Locating Sign Language Interpreters in the U.S.

To find sign language interpreters, consider contacting interpreter referral services, interpreter training programs, speech and hearing centers, and Deaf schools and organizations.

Because exchange programs often involve long hours and unusual circumstances, interpreter fatigue can result in adverse effects on communication access for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual.

Tipsheet
A young American woman seated on a yak signs "I love you" in sign language.

Disability Culture Around the World

The experience of traveling to a different country can result in “culture shock” for anyone, disability or not! You might also experience an additional layer of cultural adjustment related to attitudes around disability. As an American traveler with a disability, you may experience positive and negative cultural disability differences.

Tipsheet
In India, a beautiful scene of colors and candles is assembled on the ground.

Learning Disability Accommodations

Exchange professionals and faculty need to talk with the individual with the learning disability or attention deficit disorder and disability specialist to figure out what is needed as each person is different. If the individual does not have a learning disability diagnosis, then some of these practices may as be useful to try out to see if it helps to remediate issues the individual may be having.

Tipsheet
Rocks and sand are positioned in a zen garden.

What are Learning Disabilities?

Learning disability is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of information processing disorders that affects learning. People with learning disabilities may have difficulties with reading, math, writing, spatial orientation or other skills that are not caused by or related to another condition or disability.

Tipsheet
Megan close up in black and white, looking over her shoulder

Using Power Wheelchairs Abroad

As my fellow disabled travelers may know, total equipment failure can happen anywhere. While most people were reading the stories of Camilo José Cela on a warm bench surrounded by freesia, I spent the majority of my time getting down and dirty in the mechanic shops of Seville, Spain, where I was studying abroad for 8 months.

Tipsheet
A young woman sits atop a wooly yak with a lake and mountains in the background.

Disability-Specific Preparations: From Fatigue to Sensitivities

Use these at-a-glance tips for going abroad with specific chronic health or systemic health conditions, such as chronic fatigue to environmental sensitivities and more. Don't forget to browse our resource library for more detailed advice on many of these topics!

Tipsheet
A young blind American man backpacks through the countryside.

Disability Resources A - Z

Whatever your disability, know that it is possible to travel abroad to study, volunteer, intern, or explore your professional interests.

Tipsheet
A young woman wearing a neck support excitedly points at an elephant from a safari car.

10 Tips to Prepare for the Journey

From health care coverage to stress-busters, prepare for issues that might arise when traveling with a chronic health condition.

Tipsheet
A young American woman in a crowded market in Japan.

Chronic Health Conditions & Planning for Your International Exchange

"Being disabled doesn't mean I have to give up on my dreams," explains Emily Block, who studied abroad in over a dozen countries on the Semester at Sea program, all while managing a rare chronic health condition.

As a person with a chronic or acute health condition, also known as systemic disability, you have the right to apply for the same kinds of life-changing experiences overseas as everyone else!

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