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Laboratory Safety and Students with Disabilities

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Shmouni Danha Shmouni Danha 1635 Points

I just read "Safer Science" written by Roy (Roy, K. July 1, 2014. Safer science: Accommodation and laboratory safety. The Science Teacher, 60.) which discusses how some accommodations within IEPs can be unsafe for laboratory settings. The article stated that although students may need accommodations, it is ultimately the teachers decision to determine whether or not the laboratory environment will be compromised. Duty of Care was also mentioned, and I began to wonder where that line is between allowing or denying accommodations and also stay within legal acceptance.

Does anyone have any previous experience with accommodations in a laboratory? Any positives or negatives to the situation? As a soon-to-be teacher, I would like to see more examples so that I can be a little prepared for the many things to come!

Meg Griffith Meg Griffith 130 Points

When I taught, I never found any accommodations too difficult or unsafe in a laboratory setting. If the requirements for space are met, then physical accommodations should be taken care of (arm crutches, wheelchairs, etc). A student that is visually impaired may need accommodations that ensure their safety. I haven't read the article and I'm having some difficulty thinking of an accommodation that would compromise safety.

Abby Scheel Abby Scheel 2520 Points

Hello! I'm a preservice teacher who is a little under a year away from student teaching. I don't have many special ed classes under my belt, but it is an area I'm interested in and have personal ties to. This post was the first I've seen when it comes to making accomodations for students with different abilities, which is surprising, but I'm glad it's being talked about! I'm currently in a science methods course and it feels as if we have covered an abundance of material. However, in all we've covered, this is the first time I've thought of how to accomodate students with IEPs in a lab setting! I am eager to read "Safer Science" and continue this idea that's new to me. Let me know if there are any further experiences you've had with this! Thank you!

Micheal P Floyd Jr Micheal P Floyd Jr 55 Points

Shmouni Danha Shmouni Danha 1635 Points

The article stated that a student with ADHD required headphones to listen to music in order to focus in the classroom, and the controversy was that the student would not be able to hear teacher instructions in class. I wonder if the teacher could have just played some music in the classroom for the student so that he didn't have to wear headphones and block out all noise.

Emily Vanderpool Emily Vanderpool 395 Points

I currently have multiple 7th grade students with accommodations, as I'm sure most do. One in particular has accommodations very similar to what you're mentioning. My main concern has been with control of their behavior. Without a personal device, this student can become overstimulated and is prone to reacting out of frustration. I always give a copy of written directions as well as oral directions regardless of the presence or absence of accommodated students. This cuts down on repeating myself and can also help visual learners. With this specific student, we have very clear instructions that they follow the written directions and do not experiment on their own. I try to use plastic lab equipment/ dixie cups/ unbreakable items if at all possible. Cooperative learning groups can also help this situation a lot. Identify a student that has a relationship with the accommodated student that can give guidance and help keep them on track. It isn't easy, but I would never want a kid to miss out on the experience of a lab!

Shmouni Danha Shmouni Danha 1635 Points

Grouping students is a great idea- that way the student is working with others and can be kept on track by his/her peers and not necessarily by you at all times. I like the variation in directions that you provide, too. Making sure the environment is safe by using plastic materials is also a smart move! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 86973 Points

Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and experience on this topic, Emily. I teach preservice teachers and it is important for them to see how the accommodations they are learning about can actually work in a real classroom of students with disabilities. You are their connection between the text and real life!

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