This policy clarifies the limitations to legal protections offered to individuals with disabilities who participate in study abroad programs outside of the United States and the responsibilities of students with disabilities who wish to study abroad.
See DRC 1: Disability Resource Center Definitions for all relevant definitions as they apply to DRC policies.
Students with disabilities are served under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act. Under these laws, universities and colleges must ensure that their programs do not discriminate against students with disabilities. However, U.S. laws do not govern foreign institutions, even when U.S. institutions collaborate with them. It is the student’s responsibility to research the host culture to learn how disability is viewed in that culture. Students should learn about the types of Accommodations typically provided in the host country and consider their own openness to different ways of accommodating their disability. Students should be aware that academic and daily life in a foreign country can introduce new barriers and challenges that compromise independence for some students.
Students must disclose their needs and intent to study abroad to the DRC a semester in advance of their departure date to provide the DRC sufficient time to assess the availability of Accommodations and to make appropriate arrangements for Accommodations, if possible. Some Accommodations require advanced planning. Failure to discuss needs with the DRC in a timely manner may make it impossible to have Accommodations in place prior to the student’s departure. If a student does not disclose disability-related needs in a timely manner, the DRC Director will consult with study abroad program faculty and site personnel to determine whether Accommodations are possible.
The student participating in the study abroad program is responsible for contacting airlines and other transportation services in advance of the departure date regarding travel needs to ensure availability of appropriate transportation. Students with Service Animals should research relevant regulations in the host countries (including which animals are recognized as Service Animals and any quarantine requirements) and should carry Documentation verifying that the animal is a Service Animal.
Students requiring assistance with daily living skills such as dressing, bathing, feeding, or mobility should ensure that their needs will be appropriately addressed; faculty and peers are not obligated to provide such services. A student requiring such assistance may need to secure a Personal Care Attendant. Assistive Technology needs should be negotiated in a timely manner.
Approved by Sharneé Walker, DRC Director, June 5, 2019.