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Development, Gender, and Social Change in the Himalaya


This information is provided to assist you in identifying possible accessibility barriers and preparing for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Abroad. You should be aware that while in-country conditions and resources vary by site, every effort is made to work collaboratively with qualified individuals to facilitate disability-related accommodation. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact SIT’s Disability Services at [email protected] for additional information related to access abroad and to discuss possible accommodations.


During the coursework phase of the program, you will generally be in class five days per week for four and a half to six hours per day. You will have tea breaks between classes and a 90-minute lunch break. Learning is typically assessed through take-home assignments, in-class assignments, written assignments/exams, oral presentations/exams, individual assignments, group assignments, and in-class quizzes/exams. Course readings and in-class materials are typically available in a digital format.

If you have questions about alternate format materials, testing accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Program Center

The exterior entrance to the SIT program office has a threshold bump of approximately six-and-a-half inches. The building’s doorways measure at least 32 in. (82 cm.) wide. The library and language classrooms are located on the second floor which can only be accessed by stairs. The lecture hall, an additional language classroom, and the restroom are located on the ground floor. The restroom has a wide stall, running water, and a toilet seat raised approximately 16 in. (40 cm.) off the ground.


The program includes multi-day excursions to the middle hills, or Terai, and the Himalayan Mountains. Excursions include trekking and hiking for multiple days at a time at high altitudes (up to 13,000 feet) that involve steep uphill climbs. The excursion to the middle hills can involve short (up to half-hour) walks on basic trails (e.g., to village farms). The excursion to Chitwan can involve bicycle riding. A pair of comfortable, waterproof hiking shoes with good ankle support is recommended. Porters may or may not be available for hire to assist with carrying belongings. Program excursions may occasionally vary to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities.


The program’s homestay coordinator will be responsible for placing you in your homestays. These placements are made based, first, on health concerns, including any allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. Homestays offer refrigerators for storing medication. The physical accessibility of homestay options is currently limited. If you have questions about homestay accessibility, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Dietary Needs

The staple of the Nepali diet, which is served for most meals, is dhal bhaat, a meal centered on rice and lentils with sides of curried vegetables, pickle, and sometimes meat. It can be easy to maintain a vegetarian diet in Nepal, though it is more work to be vegan or to maintain a kosher diet. SIT Study Abroad works with students, program staff, homestay families, home colleges and universities, and others to accommodate student dietary needs whenever possible. For more information on dietary needs and dietary preferences, please review the Student Support section of the Student Health, Safety, and Support web page.


In Kathmandu, you will typically travel between your homestay, classes, and/or placement sites by walking 25 minutes or taking a local bus. Buses are not equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps. Winding roads make standing to stretch difficult. City streets are narrow and crowded with pedestrian, car, truck, bike, and animal traffic. Unexpected piles of debris and no sidewalks or crossing signals can also make it difficult to navigate Nepalese city streets. Rural roads are not paved and often consist of rough-cut pedestrian/trekking routes on mountainous terrain.

There are many locations in Nepal that are only accessible on foot. To get to excursion locations, you will usually travel by chartered bus, sometimes on short flights and on foot. You should be prepared to walk a lot.


The SIT program center provides wireless internet access, but it is only available during non-class business hours, and bandwidth is limited. Most neighborhoods have businesses such as cafés or restaurants that provide free Wi-Fi as well. The program computer space currently has two computers with word processing and spellcheck. Printing is not available at the program center, so for printing papers it is recommended to bring a flash drive to take to an internet café. You are advised to bring your own academic technology, including laptops, recording devices, adapters, and assistive technology. The deliberate shutdown of electric power to prevent system failure (electricity load shedding) has eased in metropolitan areas, though it is still prevalent in rural areas. It is recommended that you fully insure your electronic property against loss or theft.

If you have questions about assistive technology, note-taking accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Health Resources

Because of its topography, the Kathmandu Valley can sustain high levels of pollution, fog, dust, and smog. Students with asthma and/or allergies may find that the environment exacerbates these allergies. Nepal’s foremost Western medical clinic is the CIWEC clinic in Kathmandu. CIWEC has been at the forefront of treating travel-related and tropical illnesses. It has also been in the lead in medical research related to gastrointestinal parasites and altitude-related sickness. Payment for medical services is covered by your health insurance if the provider is notified prior to or during the medical service.

Mental health counseling and psychiatric care is not as widely available nor utilized in Nepal in the same way as in the United States, though there is a US-trained psychiatrist on call at the CIWEC clinic.

Once admitted, you are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns about accessing health services or medication while abroad during the health review process. Read more about the health review process and the summary of benefits for student health insurance.

Requesting Disability-Related Accommodations

To request disability-related accommodations once admitted, you should contact the Office of Disability Services. For more information about the accommodation process, documentation guidelines and a link to the accommodation request form, please visit the Office of Disability Services website.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Disability Services at [email protected] or 802 258-3390 as early as possible for information and support.

Additional Support Resources

MIUSA (Mobility International USA) is a cross-disability organization serving those with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision, and other disabilities. It offers numerous resources for persons with disabilities who wish to study abroad and/or engage in international development opportunities.

Abroad with Disabilities (AWD) is a Michigan nonprofit organization founded in 2015 with the goal of promoting the belief that persons with disabilities can and should go abroad. AWD works diligently to empower clients to pursue study, work, volunteer, and/or internship opportunities outside of the United States by creating dialogue, sharing resources, and spreading awareness.