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Accessible School Field Trips

Our last article outlined how an education standard could improve transportation services for students with disabilities. One improvement could be plans to help more students attend field trips. In this article, we will explore more ways to plan accessible field trips.

Accessible Field Trips

Field trips are an important part of school life. They give students the chance to learn in different ways by visiting new places. Moreover, field trips can help make school subjects mean more for students. For instance, students can take field trips to visit:

  • Museums, to learn more about science or history
  • Theatres, to see performances of plays they have studied
  • Places of worship, for religious studies or services
  • Sports venues, to learn the basics of a sport, such as:
    • Swimming
    • Skiing or snowboarding

In all these places, students can learn from experts in different fields, such as tour guides, theatre professionals, or sports coaches. Furthermore, end-of-year trips to places like amusement parks give elementary-school students a reward for their work during the year. Field trips also bring students together as a group and can be meaningful for their social development. Not all students are exposed to these cultural, athletic, or social activities outside of school. Therefore, all students should have access to field trips.

Accessible Locations

An education standard could mandate that field trips, when possible, should take place in accessible locations. Teachers could find out whether places they plan to visit have accessible features, such as:

  • Ramps, lifts or elevators whenever there are stairs
  • Automatic doors
  • Wide doorways at entrances to buildings and common areas
  • Accessible public washrooms
  • Barrier-free paths of travel into and through buildings
  • Accessible seating in auditoriums
  • Accessible pools and change rooms

Teachers should be encouraged to choose accessible locations for all their field trips. If teachers return to the same places every year with new classes, they will know that every student can enter.

Accessible Programs and Services

In addition, the standard could mandate that field trips should include accessible programming and services, if possible. Many venues offer services that make their events or programs accessible to people with various disabilities. For example, theatres may offer performances with American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, live description, or touch tours. Similarly, some museums offer ASL-interpreted or tactile tours. Teachers could contact venues to find out if they can arrange these or other services for students during their trip. Likewise, some amusement parks offer accessible attractions. Teachers can find out if a park has rides or other attractions that will be accessible for the students in their classes.

Furthermore, some sports venues, like swimming pools and ski hills, offer programming for learners with and without disabilities. Teachers can contact venues to find out if lessons are available for students with disabilities, including:

  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Visual

Some venues may teach students of all abilities together. In contrast, other venues may offer one-on-one lessons for students with disabilities. In both cases, all students can learn the same skill and enjoy time in a new place.

An education standard highlighting the importance of accessible field trips could help teachers plan outings that include all their students.