If you have a disability, you are advised to consult with a Study Abroad Advisor and an advisor in the Office of Disability Resource Services (located in 140 WPU - www.drs.pitt.edu- (412) 648-7890) to determine the most appropriate Study Abroad Program for you. Disclosure of a disability does not preclude you from participating on a study abroad program. Disclosure enables the Study Abroad Office staff to assist you in finding a program which will be able to accommodate your needs.
The Making It Happen project began in 2002 when staff from the University of Pittsburgh's Study Abroad Office and Disability Resources and Services began to work together to foster study abroad as a possibility for students with disabilities. Over the course of the next two years, the numbers of students with disabilities studying overseas increased dramatically, to the point where both offices decided formalize their relationship and create a standard by which students with disabilities interested in studying overseas would be served. As the relationship matured, both offices realized that each had a lot to learn from one another. Staff in each of the offices met regularly to discuss the types of issues facing students with a variety of disabilities. Overtime, an advising cycle was crafted whereby staff from both offices would sit together with a student and very frankly and honestly discuss that student's individual needs. Staff from Disability Resources and Services helped outline those needs and what types of accommodation would be necessary to help facilitate the program. Staff from the Study Abroad Office helped point these students toward programs where the implementation of these accommodations would be possible.
As no two students share exactly the same needs, both offices realized that in order for the efforts to be successful, a case by case approach was necessary. Building on their trust for one another, staff at the two offices began to regularly meet with students who had disclosed their disabilities and expressed an interest in study abroad. As more and more students with disabilities had successful study abroad experiences, the SAO and DRS realized that the case by case approach was both novel and effective. The SAO and DRS decided to share their case by case approach and its overwhelmingly positive response with other students, faculty, staff, and everyone in international education. As planning began, the SAO entertained a number of possible avenues by which to share what they had learned.
After many hours of planning, the idea for a documentary was born. But not just any documentary instead, a film that focused on the students themselves, their achievements and hardships, preparations and discoveries. We knew that in order for the film to have an impact, we needed to show the accommodations, talk to actual students and staff who regularly work with students with disabilities. We knew that we needed a crew with an eye for detail. Through the recommendation of one our Affiliated study abroad providers, the Study Abroad Office hired Outsider Entertainment, a Columbus-based, high-energy production company. We knew from their short promotional videos that their eye for editing and beautiful photography would provide the sort of visual impact for which we were looking to supplement the information and process. Upon hearing about the vision, a large number of students, staff and study abroad providers, leapt at the opportunity, volunteering their time, energy, experience, and finances to the project.
The film itself was produced through a generous grant from The IFSA Foundation with financial contributions from study abroad providers: International Studies Abroad (ISA), Academic Programs International (API), American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), Institute for Study Abroad-Butler, CEA-Cultural Experiences Abroad, Study Australia, Arcadia University and Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA). The resulting documentary features interviews with study abroad participants and study abroad program provider staff, as well as on-site footage to highlight the accommodations and opportunities abroad for students with both apparent and non-apparent disabilities. Making It Happen is truly a showcase of the collaboration, not only between the SAO and DRS, but also between study abroad providers, students, and University staff to promote the message: Study Abroad is for Everyone. You can do it. We hope you enjoy the site, watch the film, and use the resources available to make study abroad reality for you!