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Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology


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 do 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 to six days per week for three to five hours per day. You will have breaks between classes. 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 reading 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 program office is accessible by a ramp. Its classrooms and restroom are either located on the ground level or accessible by an elevator. The program does not have a separate study/library, computer space, or lounge for students. The building’s entrance, pathways/hallways, and the classroom doorway are at least 32 in. (82 cm.) wide. The restroom has running water.


The program includes extensive, multi-day, field trips that involve hiking in rainforests, snorkeling amidst reef systems, and becoming familiar with Australian flora and fauna, which can include insects, leeches, reptiles, and thorny vines. A weeklong Aboriginal camping excursion also takes place. You can expect some early rising and eight-hour days in the field. A pair of comfortable, rubber soled, waterproof shoes are recommended. Please note that to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.


You will have a two-week homestay with an Australian family in the Cairns area. The program’s homestay coordinator will be responsible for placing you in your homestay. Placements are made based, first, on health concerns, including any allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. Your homestay will have regular access to Wi-Fi, electricity to charge devices, and a refrigerator for storing medication. Physically accessible homestays are currently available but limited.

If you have questions about homestay accessibility, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Dietary Needs

Vegetarians and vegans without special requirements can be accommodated when camping or when the group is cooking, but special diets cannot always be accommodated while you are in the homestay. Breakfast is generally made up of cereal and toast. Sandwiches, burgers, and meat pies are a popular lunch food. A traditional Australian evening meal may consist of meat and two vegetables, but other foods and cuisines are also enjoyed.

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 Cairns, you will typically travel the six miles (10 km) between your homestay, classes, and/or placement sites by walking, riding bikes, and/or taking the public buses. The general routes of travel are level. Walking, chartered buses, and taxis are used for transportation on local excursions. An excursion to Lizard Island Research Station requires a one-hour flight using two small planes to transport the group and luggage. While on Lizard Island, you will also ride small boats daily. Some buses and taxis are wheelchair accessible.


The program’s computer space currently has a printer, scanner, copier, and computer with word processing, spell check, and screen magnifier. You are advised to bring your own academic technology, including laptops, recording devices, flash drives, and assistive technology. It is also 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

You will have access to a variety of medical services in urban areas in Australia. Although medical care can be arranged quickly in an emergency, routine medical care can be difficult in remote locations. There are a range of mental health counselors available in Northern Queensland. Payment for medical services is covered by your health insurance if the provider is notified prior to or during the medical service.

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.