College Students with Disabilities and Study abroad: Implications for International Education Staff


  • Brenda G. Hameister
  • Peter R. Matthews
  • Nathaniel S. Hosley
  • Margo Coffin Groff



Students with disabilities, Study abroad


Students with disabilities are underrepresented in study abroad. This article outlines five concepts that are important when seeking to include students with disabilities in study abroad—individualization, barriers and accommodations, disability spread, inclusion, and collaboration. The article addresses frequently asked questions about disability issues and presents two vignettes of students with disabilities interested in study abroad. It is emphasized that students with disabilities are, first and foremost, students. As significant as a student’s disability may appear to be, it often has relatively little significance to study abroad. If international educators are to be successful in serving students with disabilities, they must work closely with others, especially disability services staff.


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Author Biographies

Brenda G. Hameister

Brenda G. Hameister serves as Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President and Provost at Penn State University. She directed Penn State's Office for Disability Services for fifteen years, with special interest in study abroad, speech and hearing issues, and career development. 

Peter R. Matthews

Peter R. Matthews is Research Professor and Coordinator of Professional Development and Outreach in the School of Education at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His interest in study abroad and work with college students with disabilities has spanned most of his professional career. 

Nathaniel S. Hosley

Nathaniel S. Hosley is Chair of the Department of Academic Development and Counseling and the Director of the Student Support Services Program at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. He has worked extensively with students with disabilities, including a number of students who have studied abroad. 

Margo Coffin Groff

Margo Coffin Groff is Assistant Director of Program Support Services in the Office of International Programs at Penn State University. For the last thirteen years, she has specialized in student welfare issues and minority outreach. 


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How to Cite

Hameister, B. G. ., Matthews, P. R. ., Hosley, N. S. ., & Groff, M. C. . (1999). College Students with Disabilities and Study abroad: Implications for International Education Staff. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 5(1), 81–100.



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