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

Creating and Inclusive Fieldwork Curriculum

Preparatory meetings, discussion, explanation and materials

Accessibility can be achieved in two different ways. A 'product' or 'service' is directly accessible if anyone can use it as it stands. However, this will not always be possible, so some products or services may only be directly accessible by, for example, working with some external enabling technological devices or with the help of a personal assistant.

Preparatory or briefing meetings with any disabled students on the fieldcourse are usually sensible to ensure that they achieve the most from the experience, and that they understand what both the group and they as individuals will be doing. This may be the last occasion on which students undertaking free-standing fieldwork are seen before they start their study, so it is important in this case for the tutor to establish how any further communication will take place.

It is useful to have all the relevant support materials available in written or other appropriate form prior to departure, to allow the disabled students to prepare themselves fully. Provision of detailed daily plans — including such things as timings of activities, what the students will be expected to do at different points in the day and the availability of toilets — will help reduce anxiety and is a key approach, particularly for helping students with mental health difficulties. A multimedia approach may be helpful for the production of support materials. In other words, consider the use of all types of materials in an integrated way expressed as much as possible in the form of text, diagrams and audio. For example, the essence of a diagram could be captured in text (which could be spoken as well as written) (Box 19).

Several actions may be suggested at this stage:

Box 19: Some questions for fieldcourse teams to discuss at the preparation stage

Page updated 14 December 2001

GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock