Students with disabilities need access to fieldwork experiences that are part of course or program requirements. Instructors who assign these experiences need to make sure that fieldwork sites, supplementary materials, and related assignments are accessible to students with a range of hearing, visual, health, mobility, psychiatric, attention, and learning differences.

Fieldwork experiences may pose challenges for students with disabilities. For example, transportation to the site, as well as access to the fieldwork site or building may be problematic for a student with a mobility impairment. A student who is blind may need orientation to a new environment prior to the fieldwork experience. Likewise, a student with a health impairment may have difficulty with a full-time schedule or fieldwork locations that involve travel or overnight stays. Educational institutions should make reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities in all fieldwork opportunities they offer. Accommodations for students with disabilities will vary based on student needs, the fieldwork site, and the fieldwork requirements. It is important that instructors are flexible when planning fieldwork assignments.

Some individuals with disabilities will need the same accommodations at a fieldwork site that they use to complete academic work. For example, a student who is blind may need Braille, audiotapes, or an adapted computer system to access printed material. For other students, new responsibilities and environments create new challenges and potential barriers.

Instructors should review the accessibility of selected fieldwork sites and requirements early in the course planning process. Reviewing the requirements and designing activities so that they are accessible to students with a wide variety of abilities and disabilities will reduce or eliminate the need for special accommodations. Instructors and support staff can also invite students with disabilities to discuss their needs before the fieldwork to help with timely development of appropriate alternatives.

Cooperative efforts between the student, instructor, and support staff can help to ensure that fieldwork experiences are successful. Examples of fieldwork accommodations that apply to students with a variety of disabilities include:

  • fieldwork sites in accessible locations
  • accessible transportation to and from the fieldwork location
  • extended time to complete fieldwork assignments
  • flexible attendance requirements
  • detailed orientation to the fieldwork site, especially for students with visual impairments
  • group fieldwork activities
  • printed material in large-print, in Braille, and/or online
  • sign language interpreters and/or real-time captioning
  • access to computers and assistive technology as needed

Check Your Understanding

Consider the following example. A university student who uses a wheelchair for mobility needs to collect water samples during a biology field trip. It requires hiking forest trails that are not accessible for the student. What accommodations would be appropriate for this student? Choose a response.

  1. Waive the field trip requirement.
  2. Allow him to complete an alternative assignment.
  3. Change the fieldwork site to a more accessible location.
  4. Change the fieldwork assignment.
  5. Have the student work with a partner to collect the field samples.


  1. Waive the field trip requirement.
    This would not be an appropriate choice as the student would likely miss essential coursework and requirements due to his inability to participate.
  2. Allow him to complete an alternative assignment.
    An alternative assignment would be appropriate if the site cannot be made accessible to the student. It is important to keep the main goals and objectives of the course in mind when deciding on substitutions. For example, in this case, is the sample collection just as important as the analysis, or is the analysis the priority?
  3. Change the fieldwork site to a more accessible location.
    You could make sure a site is accessible to all students before you select it as a fieldwork site. By designing your course for students with a wide range of abilities and disabilities in mind, the need for assignment substitutions or accommodations may be reduced or eliminated.
  4. Change the fieldwork assignment.
    You are not required to alter your course or course requirements for a student with a disability. When planning your course, however, you may want to consider if the requirements could be met in a different location or with a different assignment with little or no accessibility issues, keeping in mind principles of universal design of instruction.
  5. Have the student work with a partner to collect the field samples.
    This would be an appropriate choice as long as the student with a disability remains an active participant in the process and does not miss key course content or requirements.

More Information

Explore DO-IT Publications, Knowledge Base articles, and websites on this topic at Accommodation Resources: Fieldwork. To learn about accommodations for a specific disability, select from the list below.