For anyone who has ever talked with students on this campus about international interests, it should come as no surprise that more than 46% of William & Mary undergraduates participate in study abroad programs. It should also come as no surprise that Global Education and Student Accessibility Services work together to ensure that students with disabilities at the university have equal opportunities to study abroad.
Although we love our institution to be unique, in this case we’re pleased to report that we are only a part of a growing trend of institutions and organizations beginning to put significant thought and effort into helping students with disabilities arrange and participate in international programs. It’s not uncommon to see presentations at national conferences like the annual AHEAD Conference (Association on Higher Education and Disability) on topics such as Global Access for Students with Mobility Disabilities (2009) or Barcelona to Buenos Aires: Application of the ADA to Study Abroad Programs (2010). Mobility International USA now offers a step by step guide to planning a study abroad experience for individuals with disability, and offers numerous publications, including this guide to national and international disability laws. For a great in-depth look at the study abroad experience for students with disabilities, see the University of Pittsburgh’s Making it Happen project.
At William & Mary, students with disabilities who are interested in study abroad should be directed to both the Reves Center and Student Accessibility Services, who will work together with the student to explore opportunities, and the student is responsible for going through the same application process as any other student. Please note that to ensure accommodations in the host country, the student must be registered with Student Accessibility Services here at the university. It is important that students requiring accommodations disclose this information as early as possible to ensure enough time to coordinate accommodations with the host country, but disclosure will in no way impact acceptance into a program.