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Accessibility Abroad

You, just like all other students, have the right to participate in any global program that you are eligible for. But remember- your responsibilities entail thorough communication and research about your accommodation needs while away. Having accessibility needs shouldn’t shy you away from the possibility of participating in a global program. During the 2017-2018 school year, it was estimated that of the US students who studied abroad, 9.2% of them reported some type of disability, and that number keeps growing (according to this Open Doors report).

Programs & Resources

If you decide to pursue a global opportunity, you will work closely with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) and your program advisor to communicate your accommodation needs. Be sure to thoroughly research the program(s) that you are interested in. Take a look at the country and the particular region’s overall attitude towards your accommodation needs. Take a look at the host institution’s accommodation offerings for your needs as well. Before you make a final decision about a program you want to participate in, be sure that you have considered the place of interests’ attitudes and offerings towards students with disabilities and different abilities. 

During the Application and Planning Process: 

Be sure to disclose your accommodation needs from the very beginning of your abroad journey. Please don’t feel uncomfortable stating your needs upfront with Global Engagement, as we are trained in understanding your needs to offer you the support that you seek!

Before applying to a program, you should also reach out to the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) and have a conversation with them about your plans to participate in a global program. Once you are accepted into a program, you should continue this conversation with your program coordinator and OAE staff.  Nobody will know your additional needs if you don’t share them, so please do!

Once a program is identified, students who receive academic accommodations through the Office of Accessible Education should obtain a letter that verifies that their academic accommodations are documented through Santa Clara University and describes the accommodations currently received and the accommodations desired abroad.

Once already placed into an abroad program, you will shift communication to the program provider who will contact you via email.

While on your global program, you will be in direct contact with on-sight staff. 


Students requiring medication should check with their medical practitioner during the pre-departure process to discuss their medical needs. Host country national laws mandate the specific medications and quantities that students can bring into a country. Although medications in amounts for personal use are rarely inspected or questioned, customs officials can become suspicious of medications in large quantities and students should refer to embassy guidance. Students should communicate with the program onsite about any medical accommodations needed overseas.

To get started, all students should make an academic plan that matches their academic goals. Find out what classes are required to complete your degree when they have to be taken, how long it will take to execute this plan, and where you can fit study abroad or away into all of this. On a study abroad or away program, you can receive major, minor, core, or elective credit - it really is up to you what you want to get out of the program and do with your time away.

Next, start exploring the different Global Opportunities at Santa Clara.

Be sure that you choose a program that matches your academic, personal, and professional goals.

  • Does the program offer coursework in your major/minor? Or coursework that will count toward CORE credit?
  • Does it offer internship or research opportunities if that’s what you’re looking for?
  • What about an opportunity to practice your language skills?

You should choose a program not only because it’s in a place you desire to go to, but one that will serve you academically, personally, and professionally - this way you are sure to get a well-rounded experience! 

Accessibility and learning support systems may differ dramatically abroad and therefore it is essential that students in need of accommodation communicate with their program advisor early in the exploration process to identify a specific program capable of accommodating their needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact us as you begin your global journey. Global Engagement is dedicated to making these opportunities more accessible for all students to participate in!

Here are questions you should consider when it comes to your accomodation needs:

Transportation accessibility

  • What will my airport arrival and departure assistance look like?
  • How will I be expected to navigate while away? 
  • What are the public transportation options available in the place of interest? 
  • Are these public transportation options accommodating to my needs? 
  • What are my alternatives to public transportation while gone? 
  • Are local taxis, Uber, Lyft, or other ride services a safe and reliable option while I’m away? 
  • Does the host institution or program offer transportation services? How will I pay these extra transportation expenses? 
  • Are there any resources that would help fund my transportation needs while away?

Service animals

  • How does this country view service animals?
  • What are the protocols needed to have my service animal come away with me?
  • Can I have my service animal be recognized as one while away?
  • Will my service animal be allowed on the host institution grounds?
  • What are the protocol and paperwork needed to have my service animal recognized as such at the host institution?
  • Will I be guaranteed housing in a place where service animals are accepted, or will I have to find my own housing?
  • How will I get my service animal to adapt to a new environment?


  • Is the medication I need to support myself legal in my global program destination?
  • What are the protocols and paperwork needed to have this medication taken with me?
  • What do I need to have my doctor or health care provider prescribe me enough medication to last me for my global program?
  • What are my options if I need more of the same medication?
  • Where and how should I pack this medication?

Housing and Meals

  • Will I be placed in a housing situation that will meet my accommodation needs? 
  • Will I be allowed to find my own housing situation? Will I have assistance in searching for housing?
  • If I will be placed with a host family, will they be understanding of my accommodation needs? What can I do if they are not?
  • If I have special dietary needs, how can I request this?

Host Institution 

  • Will the host institution accommodate my needs? 
  • What will the learning experience and learning expectations be like?
  • What are the protocols and paperwork needed to have staff and professors recognize my accommodation needs?
  • Does the host institution have a disability resource center?
  • Are there any organizations or clubs or resources as to where I can find a community with my disability, different abilities, or accommodation needs?

Counseling and Medical Services

  • Does the health insurance I receive while I’m away cover additional counseling and medical services I may need?
  • How can I continue my therapy sessions while away?
  • Where can I find a local therapist?
  • Where can I find a therapist in my dominant language?
  • What are my options for therapy and medical providers?
  • Does the host institution offer therapy sessions or medical services for their students at special rates? 
  • Do I qualify for these sessions or services?

Costs of additional accommodations and support

  • How will my financial aid packaging and OAE support accommodate these additional costs, or are they expected to be paid out of pocket?
  • Are there additional resources such as aid, grants, or scholarships I should look into to help fund these additional costs? 

Additional Resources:


Talking to your loved ones about study abroad or away can be a subject that may require some timing and planning. Coming to study at Santa Clara University might be the first time that you have found yourself away from your loved ones and they may be concerned about you going even farther away from them by studying in another city, state, or country.

If you find yourself a little bit nervous about talking to them, know that you have all the resources you need, including academic and financial planning information, to support your argument about why you want to study abroad or away and how you’re going to do it.

We even have a Family Resources section of our website that you can share! 

You can let them know that it is going to complement your studies at SCU and open up new academic, personal, and professional opportunities for you. And, you can explain that financial aid goes with students who receive it.

If they are concerned about the location that you are going to, be sure to do your research and let them know some reassuring facts about the place. You should also let them know that you will have on-site support by staff and that you will be with other students as well. These are just some of the many points you can use to enhance your conversation with your loved ones about study abroad or away. 

Student Experiences

We understand how important it is for current students to hear from previous alumni who participated in global experiences while attending SCU. We've built the "Student Experiences" section of our website to connect you with former students through a variety of ways, including our podcast: Abroaden Your Horizons, student spotlights, and even the Returnee Database. Happy Connecting!

Explore Student Stories
Program Opportunities

Global Engagement welcomes all students to apply to our global learning programs. Santa Clara offers international, virtual, and domestic program opportunities.

Share Your Story

Your story is the most powerful insight available and can inform Global Engagement about how we can better support students of diverse ethnic, racial, and national markers going away in the future. As a Global Engagement Alumni, there are a variety of options to choose from if you want to share your experiences with others. We've organized a few of these opportunities at SCU on our website here, based on the level of engagement you have time for.