Disabilities and International Study Abroad

Students with disabilities often raise questions about how they will arrange accommodations if they participate in an off-campus study program.  St. Olaf encourages all students to consider studying off-campus, and students with disabilities are certainly no exception. Advance planning makes all the difference. Here are some steps to help you identify the right program and then to assure accommodations are in place.

  • Indicate your interest early. During your annual meeting with your Access Specialist, or at a meeting you arrange separately, bring up your interest in studying abroad–your questions and concerns, academic goals, and any elements of your situation which may need extra attention as you choose an off-campus study program.  Think about your particular skills and limitations in navigating a foreign language, reading and writing, mobility, living and working in a group, employing flexibility when plans change, and physical or emotional stamina.  If you work with a therapist, counselor or another advisor, talk through your interest and get that person’s perspective on how off-campus study may work for you.
  • Carefully read the off-campus study options. When course offerings are made available, carefully read through the options, noting those courses which most appeal to you. Consider both the country where you would study as well as the subject and content of the course.
  • Meet with a representative from the International and Off-campus Studies (IOS). Once you’ve identified a few programs which interest you, make an appointment in the IOS office. Representatives from IOS can let you know what each program entails and how various programs fit with your particular needs.
  • Meet with the faculty member leading the trip. The faculty member can answer specific questions about the itinerary, course content, and the way the course is taught and assessed.
  • Apply for the program(s) of interest to you. Ask for support from the IOS office if the online application poses challenges.
  • Schedule time with your Access Specialist to discuss appropriate accommodations. As soon as you’ve been accepted into a program, make an appointment to talk with your Access Specialist. The two of you can verify your current accommodations and decide whether any accommodations need to be added or changed for the off-campus experience. Request an accommodation letter immediately after the meeting so that you and your faculty member have plenty of time to plan ahead for accommodations.
  • Be truthful when you complete your Physical or Health Disclosure form for the program. The more accurate the information on your particular situation is, the better prepared you and your faculty member will be for an educational and enjoyable experience.

For questions about off-campus study, contact Jodi Malmgren in IOS at malmgren@stolaf.edu,  at 507-786-3069 or by stopping by the IOS office in Tomson 380.

For questions about accommodations for off-campus study, contact your Access Specialist by e-mail, at ext. 3288 or by stopping by the Center for Advising and Academic Support (CAAS) in Tomson 153.