What are reasonable accommodations for students with mobility impairments when fieldwork sites are not physically accessible?
Several options can be considered for accommodating students with mobility impairments when the field site is physically inaccessible. The student with the mobility impairment might:
- Travel to the site and work closely with a partner or with a group, accessing any part of the site that is physically accessible.
- Complete an alternate but equivalent assignment, such as reviewing a video of the fieldwork, completing fieldwork at a different location, analyzing samples other students have collected, or writing a paper on the topic.
For future planning, the instructor should consider selecting field sites that include accessible trail systems, restrooms, and buildings and make sure that accessible transportation is available. This proactive approach is an example of universal design, where the instructor considers the wide variety of abilities and disabilities of potential students as he/she plans course activities, including field work. Keep in mind that an accessible field site may benefit others, including a student with a temporary injury such as a broken leg or an aging volunteer.
For more information on universal design, explore The Center for Universal Design in Education.