Travelling while disabled poses unique demands and considerations. This needn’t be an obstacle with good research and preparation.
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- Find the best location based on Access and legal protections for disabled people there
- Contact the host organisation in advance
- Contact Goldsmith’s Disability team and the Global Opportunities team
- Look into travel and insurance well in advance
- Gather the opinions and experiences of other disabled travellers
- Research scholarships you may be eligible for
Look for opportunities in countries notable for good accessibility, such as those covered in this guide from GoOverseas.
A few considerations:
- Cities may have better facilities than towns or rural areas
- Check out destinations in advance on Google Maps on street view so you can visualise what areas look like and whether they would be accessible to you or not
- Consider attitudes to accessibility in possible destinations. Do they have legal rights and protection for disabled citizens e.g., Equality Act 2010 in the UK or the American Disabilities Act? Look for opportunities there and reach out to them
Accessibility needs are different for everyone so be sure they are seeing you as an individual and if any adjustments come across as exceptionally difficult, look elsewhere. The important thing is not to be discouraged. Keep searching as meeting your necessary requirements for Access is possible. Advocate for yourself! There are many resources out there that can help:
- Go Abroad guide for traveling with a disability
- The Foreign & Commonwealth Office have advice on foreign travel for disabled people
- The NHS has advice on travelling with mental health issues
Get in touch with your host organisation’s Disability Service or Office where applicable to discuss your requirements and any adjustments you might need including access requirements.
Aim for transparency. If you like the look of a particular opportunity, contact them directly with information on your access needs and how/if they can cater for them. Transparency on your abilities and limitations are key. Don’t settle for less and approach multiple host organisations at a time, if possible, in case one doesn’t work out.
If you are studying abroad then get in touch with the disability team in your host university before you arrive. Adequate accessibility is a requirement to be a partner university, meaning this information will already have been explored.
If you have adjustments in place at Goldsmiths the Global Opportunities team and the Goldsmiths Disability team will work with your host university to put these in place whilst you are abroad.
The Inclusive Mobility website provides useful information on the support different universities have in place for students with disabilities.
Disabled travellers must also consider travel to and within the country in advance. You could do this before applying for funding to have the information ready; funding could help toward these costs. In addition, if you are in receipt of a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), contact Student Finance to enquire whether travel funds could be used abroad.
- Preparatory visits: consider if you need to visit the country/region in advance of the placement – the Global Opportunities team may be able to help you with this
- Insurance: consider extra insurance you will need in advance. This includes for any specialist equipment that you need to take with you abroad. If necessary, organise any letters from your doctor(s) to protect travel with medical equipment
- Accommodation: The Global Opportunities team can help with securing accommodation that you may find. Most disabled travellers stay in hotels which have better facilities and can have designated rooms for those with additional needs. Again, this is best done in advance to save cost and secure a living space. Should you need equipment you think may not be provided abroad, for example, a deaf traveller could take their own smoke alarm which makes the bed vibrate, contact the host about this first. You may need to bring your own and if necessary, apply for funding for this
Accessibility is becoming a priority for institutions more and more. A great example of this is Mobility International USA (MIUSA).
We may be able to provide increased funding to help cover costs arising from additional support requirements. Please highlight this in your application and the Global Opportunities team can then discuss it with you further.
Both the Erasmus programme and the Turing scheme offer significant levels of additional funding which can help to reduce barriers to participation for disabled students.
We also recommend searching for additional scholarships to help cover any costs that may arise in the process of going abroad for work or travel.
Experience of travelling while disabled
One of the best resources out there are other disabled travellers. Seek advice from Accessibility-minded blogs and/or podcasts. Good existing resources include A Different Way of Travelling and Wheelchair Travel.
Check out the Ripple Effects: Travellers with Disabilities Abroad podcast with episodes from disabled students travelling to Italy, Kyrgyzstan and more.