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Accommodations Abroad

Guidance for Students with Accommodations Planning to Study Abroad

For some Dickinsonians with accommodations, there are no barriers to studying abroad that can’t be overcome. But for others, access to certain supports or accommodations may be critical factors in their decision-making process. This webpage is designed to help you consider an array of factors so that you can make informed decisions and plan accordingly, and our first recommendation is to arrange to have a conversation with CSGE (Center for Global Studies and Engagement) to learn more about how various programs may or may not have supports in place for students with disability-based accommodations. 

Important Considerations

Why should I disclose my eligibility for accommodations to CGSE?

There may be a variety of reasons why doing so would be a benefit to you. Here are some of them:

  • To ascertain whether a program is able to implement specific accommodations
  • To determine the ideal fit of a program vis-à-vis your strengths, challenges, and learning style
  • To find an appropriate program that can meet your accommodation needs
  • To have any potential accommodations that may carry over put in place as soon as possible
  • To provide staff with any information it would be important to have to assist you in an emergency.

When should I disclose to CGSE?

The sooner the better! The best way to determine whether a study abroad program is a good fit for you and to maximize your success when studying abroad is to discuss your potential needs or concerns with a member of the staff at CGSE early so that you can find out more about what programs might be able to implement certain accommodations or provide supports for certain disability-related needs. Disclosing the use of accommodations will have no bearing on a student's acceptance or denial into a program, so don't let that be a concern.

Advantages of Disclosing a Disability to CGSE Before or During the Application Process

  • CGSE staff members can help you find a program that is a good fit even before you apply. [A student’s disability status will not be considered during the application process.]
  • CGSE can help assist you in determining the accommodations that are generally available within a program.
  • Disclosing early will allow you extra time to ensure that available accommodations are in-place when your program begins.
  • Disclosing early will allow you time to identify possible alternative strategies, if your accommodations are not available in your desired program.

Potential Negative Impacts of Waiting to Disclose a Disability to CGSE

  • You may find that you have committed to a program for which some or all of your accommodations are not available.
  • If you wait until after you arrive, unexpected barriers related to disability access may postpone or impede the use of available accommodations.

What should I disclose to CGSE about my disability / accommodation needs?

There is no need for you to disclose any diagnostic information unless you choose to. But you may want to share the following information:

  • How your disability impacts your academic and daily functioning
  • The accommodations for which you’re eligible (ADS will provide you with a copy of your accommodation letter to share with them)
  • Which accommodations have been effective for you in the past, and which you believe to be critical to your academic success
  • Any need for counseling or other special supports
  • Any prescription medication (this is important, as there may be restrictions placed on what you can take overseas)

Factors to Consider and Useful Questions to Assist Your Decision-Making and Planning

Dickinson’s ability to accommodate students with disabilities in various global programs differs. it is generally more likely that certain accommodations can be implemented in a Dickinson-run program, but not necessarily in the same way as on campus. If a program is not Dickinson-run, it's possible that very few or even no accommodations will be available, as the ADA (American's with Disabilities Act) only applies to institutions within the United States.  Furthermore, if you are reliant on certain types of supports or medications, it's important to see whether those supports will be available to you when abroad. Before committing to a study abroad program, consider asking yourself or others the following questions, as applicable:

  • Are there any accommodations that I consider to be critical to my educational experience and if so, which one(s)?
  • Would the accommodation for ______ be available for me to use in this program?
  • How might certain accommodations (such as testing in a distraction-reduced environment or support with class notes) be implemented?
  • Are there any supports (such as access to counseling or monitoring of medication use) that are critical, and if so, would they be available to me? 
  • If I'm currently working with a mental health care provider, would I be able to continue my sessions over skype or another platform?
  • Are there any rules in this country about bringing in medications?  
  • What kinds of physical/ mobility expectations would be placed on students participating in this program?
  • What will the living and dining arrangements be for students in this program?

Already Accepted and Committed to Going?

Congratulations! Here are a few things to consider:

How will the Study Abroad Program know about my eligibility for accommodations?

They will not know unless you make them aware! ADS will email all students with academic accommodations who will be studying abroad an abroad-specific Accommodation Letter. It is the student’s responsibility to share this letter with both the CGSE staff and the Program Director, and to learn the necessary protocols for requesting accommodations for that specific program (some require additional documentation and some do not). Accommodation letters are generally sent to students approximately 2 weeks after the deadline for applying to study abroad has passed.

Will my accommodations be applicable overseas?

It depends. Every country and every program has its own educational protocols, and this is true with regard to academic accommodations. The federal laws which support your rights to accommodations in the US do not extend outside the US borders. Students in certain programs may be able to request and be granted a variation of one or more of your accommodations, while others may be enrolled in programs that don’t offer any accommodation supports. The only way to know for sure is to ask!

When should I share my eligibility for accommodations with my Program Director?

ADS recommends passing on your abroad-specific Accommodation Letter to your Program Director soon after you get it. Why?

  1. If the use of accommodations is critical for you, you can ask which would likely be applicable and then determine if you're still comfortable pursuing your studies in that program.
  2. Arranging for accommodations from an institution or program located outside of the U.S. frequently takes longer than anticipated (and, as said above, may necessitate additional documentation), so starting the process early can prevent having to scramble to try to set things up when there may be insufficient time to do so.
  3. If you don't send it right away, you could forget to send it later. Carpe diem!

Will it be possible to record classes abroad, and if so, might I be able to take along a LiveScribe pen?

If you have an accommodation to have support with class notes, getting supplemental notes may not be possible abroad, and you may want to consider recording your classes with a LiveScribe pen (scroll down on that page to "Smart Pens" for more information). Some students simply purchase their own pens, but if you’re borrowing a Dickinson-owned pen that you’re currently using, you’ll need to return it to ADS to be renewed.  Although recording (for students with this accommodation) is possible in classes taught by Dickinson professors, for other classes, you would need to find out from CGSE whether recording classes is permitted where you’ll be studying.

What if I have prescription medications?

It is important for any student planning to be on prescription medications while abroad to let CGSE staff know so that they can make you aware of any barriers or restrictions that might exist for certain countries.  You may also call International SOS - Dickinson’s Medical and Travel Assistance provider - or log into their website with our member ID to find more about health issues and the availability of or restrictions on the medication you take in your host country.

  • International SOS website:
  • International SOS phone number: (215) 942-8226
  • Dickinson Member number: 11BCAS626216

Questions for ADS? Email us at
Questions for CGSE? Email them at