Providing Learning Support for Students with Mobility Impairments Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities

Strategies for Fieldwork

Facilitate the activity so that the student can participate in it, but at a different location

If it is not possible to use the location which would normally be used, an alternative is to find a more accessible location. QAA (2000) explicitly recognises this as an approach to enabling access, in their guidance to precept 11, as:

"re-locating field trips to alternative sites or providing alternative experiences where comparable opportunities are available which satisfy the learning outcomes;"

The whole party should use the new location, not just students who have mobility impairment, to avoid any sense of exclusion. Cooke et al. (1997) describe the process of creating accessible introductory geology trips at Stanford University, USA, as a pragmatic approach to open up earth science careers to talented students with mobility impairments. They found that the redesign of the field exercises resulted in a better learning experience for all students. One strategy they adopted in selecting sites was to evaluate possible sites for geological exercises using accessibility criteria, developed from discussions with students with mobility impairments (Table 1). These could, of course, only be a guide, as actual access depends on a combination of both site conditions, which might vary seasonally, and the student's disability.

Table 1: Approximate access requirements for mobility-impaired persons (after Cooke et al., 1997)
Kerb cuts/ramps Necessary for all wheelchairs
Gradient:
Power chair Less than 1:6
Manual chair Less than 1:8 to 1:12
Walking mobility-impaired Less than 1:10 to 1:16 (depends on person)
Loose sand or gravel Unacceptable except for power chairs
Packed Gravel and Dirt Roads:
Power chair without knobbly tyres Less than 1.5cm diameter gravel, no mud
Power chair with knobbly tyres Most road surfaces
Manual chair Less than 1cm gravel, no mud (depends on person)
Walking mobility-impaired No gravel, no mud

Page updated 14 December 2001

GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock