DEVELOPING A COMMUNITY RESOURCE OF TOOLS AND TRAINING TO ENABLE ABILITY-INCLUSIVE FIELDWORK
There is a great need for practical solutions that break down the social and institutional barriers to the participation of people with disabilities in geoscience field learning. Technology-mediated approaches have been shown to be an effective means of enabling participation and can lead to the development of strong communities of learning that make lasting changes in attitudes that extend beyond the course in which it was implemented. Despite these benefits, the cost of appropriate technology and lack of training on how to incorporate the technology in an inclusive and educationally productive way are barriers to implementation for many field courses and instructors.
Building on the outcomes of the Enabling Remote Activity (ERA) and Inclusive STEM Practices projects at the Open University, and the NSF GEOPATHS project Engaging Students in Inclusive Field Experiences via Onsite and Remote Partnerships, we are developing an Inclusive Fieldwork Technology Toolkit available for short-term loan to university field science departments upon request. The Toolkit is adaptable to meet many accessibility needs from providing wireless communication capabilities across field locations with limited accessibility, to providing accessible alternative means of collecting data and observations. The toolkit can be customized to meet the needs of each request, and users are provided with instructions for set-up and use as well as guidance on best practices for inclusion of students with disabilities. The goal of developing this new community resource is to promote fieldwork accessibility and create more inclusive field opportunities for students of all abilities.