Enabled Abroad

At Illinois, we'll work with your disability to help make your goal of studying abroad a reality.

What is Enabled Abroad?

Enabled Abroad is a collective effort between the Study Abroad Office and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) to facilitate equal access for students wanting to participate on a study abroad program. We provide on-site accessibility information for programs, set up on-site support if necessary, and assist before, during, and after each program to ensure that your experience is successful.

enabled abroad drawing

Translation: "Look at my potential, not my disability."
Chefchaouen, Morocco (2013)

Scholarships for Study Abroad

The Enabled Abroad Scholarship is available for students with physical or sensory disabilities to study abroad. Award amounts range from $500 to $4,000. The application process is non-competitive.

Additional scholarships for students with physical or sensory disabilities can be found through the following websites:

  • Mobility International USA (MIUSA)—This extensive scholarship listing includes general scholarships as well as disability specific awards.
  • IES Abroad Disability Grants—There are $500 grants available. You must participate in an IES Abroad program. Deadlines vary with program term.
  • DiversityAbroad.com Scholarship—There are $500 scholarships available to economically disadvantaged, first-generation students with disabilities and ethnic/racially diverse students.
  • CIEE GAIN Scholarship—This scholarship offers up to $1,500 in airline ticket expenses. You must be a CIEE Study Center applicant and must demonstrate financial need or defining barriers to overcome in order to study abroad.

Overseas Accommodations

Students registered with DRES services who are eligible for on-campus accommodation are also eligible for overseas accommodation when it can be arranged. Because almost any site has the potential to be made accessible, students are encouraged to speak with their DRES representative and a Study Abroad advisor early so that onsite arrangements can be made.

Questions to ask your Study Abroad Advisor

  • What is your host culture's attitude towards individuals with disabilities (mobility, psychiatric, hearing, vision, learning, etc.)?
  • Overall, what is the physical environment and terrain like of your host city and host university?
  • Is transportation (bus, train, airports) available and accessible?
  • Are there accessible housing options that are close to classes? If there are dining areas, laundry rooms, and study areas, are these accessible as well?
  • Are bathrooms in key areas (classroom, housing, libraries) accessible?
  • Are local businesses (banks, shopping centers, markets, grocery stores) accessible?
  • How much on-site support (offices, an RD, hospitals, counseling centers, note taking assistants, books on tape, etc.) is offered in your host city/university?
  • How different is the academic environment, and is there flexibility for longer test time, reduced workloads, mandatory excursions, etc.?

Considerations for Overseas Studies and Your Disability

The key for any study abroad participant is flexibility. While much of the information on accessibility can be gleaned from a Study Abroad Advisor, students are also encouraged to contact Mobility International for assistance in finding programs and oversea support services.

It is important to disclose your needs to a Study Abroad advisor and DRES as you begin exploring program options, and really consider alternative and creative ways to meet these needs while you are overseas.

Pre-Departure Tips for Students

"There was a definite difference in culture between Australia and the Asia mainland, especially in China. From what I had become accustomed to in Australia—which was everyone just being completely okay with me, basically not even noticing me, to everyone staring at you whenever you walked down the street—it was a big change. But then you realize that it's a culture that doesn't really take into account disabled people, and it's just something they're curious about, something they maybe haven't seen before, and that doesn't mean that they are any less willing to help."

-Rob Kozarek, Australia 2011

  • Find out as much as you can about your host culture and how they view a disability by reading, talking to other students or reading their blogs, talking to other campus departments (such as Illinois International Centers, Counseling Center, DRES, etc.) and attending pre-departure orientation sessions.
  • Think about how you will answer questions about your disability in the language of your host country—look up key vocabulary words ahead of time.
  • What challenges do you anticipate from your host city/university and how can you find positive and creative ways to deal and overcome these challenges before they arise?

What are my next steps?

Talk to a peer who has studied abroad with a disability, or listen to the great stories below to see how these students made it possible. When you're ready, our study abroad advisors can help make Enabled Abroad the experience you want it to be!