Work placements, field trips and study abroad
Students are often required to undertake fieldwork/work placements as part of their course. This experience can provide them with industrial knowledge, contacts and greater confidence as well as helping to enhance their future employability and a valuable opportunity to apply what they have learnt. With careful planning and monitoring, work placements, field and study-abroad trips can be accessible to most students with a disability. It is therefore essential to discuss with the student any learning support needs so that reasonable steps are taken to create a supportive, inclusive environment.
However, if participation in fieldwork activities is not practical, substitute activities might be considered, such as changing location, replacing fieldwork with laboratory exercises or offering the option of virtual fieldwork.
The following questions and links can provide support for both staff and students:
Have all students:
- been offered a further opportunity to discuss their individual requirements and encouraged to disclose any disability, medical condition or specific learning difficulty which might affect their learning on placement?
- been informed that disclosing a disability enables appropriate support to be put in place and any reasonable adjustments to be made?
- been assured that this information remains confidential and consent must be obtained from the student before any information regarding the disability can be shared?
Forward planning at the program design stage can ensure that students with a disability have equal access to the benefits that fieldwork provides. Extra time spent during the preparation period may be all that is required to ensure that the placement/field trip or study abroad experience fully achieves its aims.
In order for appropriate adjustments to be made, consider the following:
- have there been discussions between the relevant School/Faculty placement co-ordinator, student and placement provider?
- have the placement objectives, assessment criteria and understanding of the student's individual requirements been clarified?
- have the inherent requirements of the unit/subject been clarified in order to grant the student accommodations?
- is there a placement agreement and has it identified any accommodations/services to be provided by the University/placement provider?
- have their respective roles and responsibilities been identified, such as who will take responsibility for making adjustments and providing assistive technology/personal assistants/signers etc.?
- has the placement agreement identified communication mechanisms, grievance procedures?
- has the Disability Support or Counselling Service been contacted for further suggestions and support?
Safety and duty of care
The presence of a disability does not pose an inherent safety hazard. However staff do have a duty of care to all students and the people that they work with in the field.
To find out more about adjustments and creating inclusive placements see: