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Comparative Ecology and Conservation


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 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 at least every two hours. Learning is typically assessed through take-home 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 SIT program office is accessible by a short set of exterior stairs and has an accessible door handle. The exterior entrance and many of the interior hallways/pathways are at least 32 in. (82 cm.) wide. The building does not have an accessible elevator. Currently, the program’s classrooms and restrooms are inaccessible.


In addition to multi-day trips to farms and forests, there are three weeklong field excursions interspersed throughout the semester. You will study lifeforms and their adaptations in a comparative context on multiday trips to farms, highland forests, and Andean dry forest sites near Quito, the Andean highland, cloud forests, the Amazonian rainforest, and the Galápagos Island ecosystems. Many of these excursions involve climbing muddy and steep terrain. You should expect to stand, walk, and hike for long periods of time. A pair of comfortable, rubber-soled, waterproof trekking shoes is recommended. 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. Urban homestays offer regular access to Wi-Fi, cellular service, electricity to charge devices, and refrigerators to store medication. Other accommodations include hostels, private homes, reserve lodges, small hotels, and a boat (in the Galápagos Islands). The physical accessibility of homestay options and other accommodations 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 everyday diet varies by region (for example, more seafood is eaten by the coast) but typically consists of rice, potatoes, fresh fruit, vegetables, and occasionally red meat, chicken, or seafood. Students adhering to a vegan or kosher diet may have significant difficulty eating a balanced diet in Ecuador, as many dairy/egg products are regularly consumed and vegetables are not a staple. Vegetarians should be fine, especially if they can be flexible; be aware that even non-meat dishes may be cooked with lard, beef broth, etc. Also, vegetarians should be aware that “vegetarian” in Latin America is usually assumed to mean avoidance of red meat.

SIT Study Abroad works with students, program staff, homestay families, home colleges and universities, and others to accommodate 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.


General routes of travel in Quito have limited accessibility features such as curb cuts. You will typically travel between your homestay, classes, and/or placement sites by walking and bus. The average distance is 1.8 mi. (3 km.). Airplanes and buses are used for program excursions. Buses, including those for excursions, are generally not equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps and do not have room to stand or stretch.


You are advised to bring your own academic technology, including laptops, recording devices, adapters, thumb drives, and assistive technology. Additionally, you are encouraged to bring a GPS and other equipment for your Independent Study Project. The program’s computer space currently has a computer, printer, scanner, and copier. Internet access is good throughout Quito and smaller cities. It is possible to rent time on a computer with high-speed internet access at internet cafés. 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

Excellent healthcare facilities and pharmacies are available in major cities in Ecuador, and good private clinics are in many smaller cities and towns. In general, private clinics and hospitals are better than state-owned healthcare facilities. The program staff has information concerning healthcare resources for most any need, including dental, vision, and mental health care. Program staff can also recommend several English-speaking mental health professionals in Quito, but you should be advised that counseling and psychiatric care is not utilized in Latin America in the same way as in the United States. Payment for medical services is covered by your health insurance if the provider is notified prior to or during the medical service.

Admitted students 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, admitted students 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.