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Laboratory access and other campus areas

The Sensory Access in Higher Education. Guidance report 2009.ECU London provides some useful decisions that may help management make access to areas on the campus easier to achieve.  But for those teaching STEM subjects there may be specific issues affecting access to science laboratories, field trips and other test situations. 

The Geography Network have provided some useful pointers:

Lectures and laboratories

An essential component of the fieldwork experience are the lectures and laboratory sessions that precede, accompany and follow the study activities in the field. Among the things you can do to make lectures more accessible to visually impaired students are:

  • Ensure that full advance notice is given and that physical access to the lecture or lab venue is easy.

  • Ensure that visual aids used in a lecture or presentation are either directly accessible (e.g. large text format) or that some alternative is made available (e.g. in digital format on a floppy disk, or on a Web site).

  • Describe the contents of any visual material (e.g. table, graph, map) displayed on screen or board.

  • Pace the presentation so that visually impaired students can keep up in terms of (say) braille or PC note-taking.

  • Use a digital recorder to record the lecture, which they can transcribe at their leisure later — remind staff to reserve a front-row seat if a visually impaired student requests one.

  • Use a braille typewriter or laptop computer to take notes.

  • Use a peer note-taker — i.e. a student who will share their class notes with them. (The university disability unit may be able to provide free carbon paper to student helpers to provide this service for visually impaired students in their class.)

  • Bring their guide dog into class rooms (if they have one) — allocate a suitable seat so that the dog is not in other students' way. (This is especially important in laboratories, where the possibility of accidents may be greater.)

For laboratory work, the following additional issues are also important:

  • Provide suitable additional task lighting for non-blind visually impaired students.

  • Ensure that appropriate safety procedures are in place, and that visually impaired students have been trained in their observance. (See your local health and safety representative for professional advice on the use of laboratories by visually impaired students.)