Issues in Providing Learning Support for Disabled Students Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities


Fieldtrips are journeys that can be difficult and challenging, but at their best they develop high quality learning and intellectual and 'transferable'/'key' skills. Fieldwork and fieldcourses are activities that shape students appreciation of the whole curriculum and for many disciplines this is central to our fascination with its concerns and its pedagogy.

Writing this guide has also been a journey - which has brought together the concerns of those for whom fieldwork is central to our discipline, with those for whom issues of inclusivity and the particular needs of that diverse students with disability are central to their professional concerns and responsibilities. Both 'groups' of us have learned from each other on this journey. As we have made it we have also seen how society's understanding of issues of disability is also a journey. As we have said earlier in this guide, this debate or intellectual journey is moving from how can disabled people be best cared for, to how can they attain civil rights and achieve social and economic integration. This is reflected in a move from institutional to community care, from segregated to integrated education and flexible and imaginative approaches to enabling alternative means of participation where physical access is impossible or unreasonably difficult. We have also shown how internationally states are developing legislation that reflects such changing perceptions and enshrining that in the responsibilities of disciplinary communities, institutions, departments and individual staff.

For those of us for whom fieldwork is central this will mean rethinking and developing much of our practices and policies. Other guides in this series deal in detail with particular 'disabilities' and how fieldwork might be reshaped to address these issues. This will not be easy, and no doubt we have still much to learn. But this guide has hopefully given us a map to start the journey, and offers the prospect that the result will be a more inclusive and enriching experience for us all - and in particular opening up fieldwork to people for whom that experience has previously been marginal or non existent.

Page updated 14 December 2001

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