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Study Abroad Program Considerations

The following series of questions prompt you to consider aspects of the different programs you are contemplating. This is not a comprehensive list and there may be additional factors that should be discussed with staff in the Office for Students with Disabilities (SSD) and the CIE. 

Attitudes about Disability

  • How important is it for you to study in a place where disability accommodations are well-developed and cultural attitudes are progressive?
  • How will your independence or use of adaptive equipment be affected based on the program you are considering?
  • How does the chosen host culture define disability?
  • What questions about your disability might you need to be prepared to answer?
  • Consider carefully how your communication needs may change while you study abroad. How may this impact your daily activities and/or accommodations?

Curriculum Questions

  • How are the courses designed and what type of coursework will be required?
  • Does a program fit your learning style? For example:
    • Is the program based on interactive classes and experiential field trips or a more traditional lecture/discussion format?
    • Are there structured schedules and assignments to help you manage your time?
    • Are late morning classes to accommodate fatigue available in the program?
  • Can you arrange for test accommodations?
  • Will there be multiple choice or essay exams?
  • How much reading is involved?
  • Is document conversion available for on-site reading materials?
  • For students using interpreting and real-time captioning, what is the duration of the program? How many classroom hours are required in your program?


  • How will you approach traveling on an international airline and in an international airport? 
  • It is important to research accessible information prior to leaving the country and to be prepared in case things don’t go as planned. It is critical to have a back-up plan in place.
  • What types of accessible public transportation are available in the host country? 
  • What types of transportation will be most often used in your study abroad program?
  • What are the overall conditions of public sidewalks and pavement of streets?


  • What are the housing options through your program and what accommodations do you need?
  • Are the room dimensions physically accessible to individual needs?
  • Are there elevators available in your housing facility?
  • Are there accessible bathroom and shower facilities? How close are they to your room?
  • Are there flashing fire alarms in your housing facility? In your room?
  • What are the sleeping arrangements like in your program?
  • How might technology in the host country impact your assistive technology housing needs?

Medical Care & Auxiliary Aids

  • Are replacement parts for auxiliary aids readily available in the event of loss or damage?
  • Can your current treating specialist refer you to possible agencies or professionals who may assist you in the event of an emergency?
  • Can you bring your prescribed medications through customs and to your host country?

Service Animals

  • Are there any laws in the host country which support/don't support service animals?
  • Does the program allow service animals in the accommodations? Some programs may require you to find your own accommodations.
  • Are there veterinary services conveniently available in your host country? 
  • What vaccines, documentation, and tests are required to bring your service animal into your host country (or other countries) and back into the US?
  • Will your service animal be required to undergo a period of quarantine when traveling internationally? 
  • Will public transportation/airlines allow service animals in all the countries you may be visiting?
Research the different rules and regulations that may impact service animals during international travel.

Many thanks to the International Academic Programs Office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for this list of questions.