What lab safety issues need to be considered when working with a student with a mobility impairment?
Although each situation is different and the student is the best source of information regarding useful accommodations, the following are some accommodations that should help to make the laboratory safer for students with mobility impairments and the other students in the class as well:
- Consider table height carefully, and try to have an adjustable-height table available. It's easier to be safe when everything is at a comfortable level.
- Make sure all doorways and pathways are at least 32 inches wide and curbs or thresholds are less than 1/2 inch high.
- Be sure that emergency exits are wheelchair accessible.
- Pair a student who has limited use of his or her hands with another student who can do fine motor manipulations. Be sure that both students have the opportunity to make a contribution to the group.
- Make sure all students know the location of safety equipment, and place it at a height where it will be accessible to someone sitting in a wheelchair.
For more information on making science laboratories accessible to students with disabilities, visit the Regional Disability Liaison Unit at Deakin University and look for "Lab access Manual" to download the PDF document or obtain the information in HTML.
Additional suggestions for making science labs accessible can be found in The Winning Equation: Access + Attitude = Success in Math and Science or view the video by the same title.
For information on accommodation strategies, consult Working Together: Science Teachers and Students with Disabilities or view the video by the same title.