Learning Aims:
The pupils are to be able to apply their knowledge in order to identify hinders in the school environment for a person confined to a wheelchair. They are to plan and carry out an investigation, draw conclusions from the results and suggest improvements.
The pupils must themselves think about what materials they need to carry out their investigation.
Suggestions for use:

The pupils are to work in groups. The task is to investigate the school’s accessibility to a person in a wheelchair. Start with the worksheet containing the description below. Ask the pupils to formulate criteria for good accessibility. Ask them then to describe how they will investigate if these criteria are fulfilled. Discuss this with the whole class, and then allow the groups to carry out their individual investigations. They can investigate various sections of the school and its environs – the classrooms, the sports hall, a nearby shopping centre, bus stop etc. They are to write a report. In connection with reporting, they are to suggest improvements. A good way to investigate the situation is to borrow one or more wheelchairs and let the pupils test life at their school in a wheelchair for a whole day.

Sara has finished primary school and needs to change school to start at secondary level. She’s a little worried because she uses a wheelchair. Her parents contact the principal and ask about wheelchair access at the new school. This is the first time a pupil in a wheelchair is to enrol at the school, so the principal is unsure, and asks to call back later after investigating the matter.

Discussion Assignment: To be young and live with a disability
Many people are forced to live with serious illnesses throughout life. An example of such a disease can be CP, cerebral palsy, an umbrella term for various disorders of muscle control caused during fetal development, during childbirth or during early childhood. CP is the leading cause of disability in children and adolescents. Symptoms vary, but usually the patient in the spastic limbs. Many people believe that people with cerebral palsy are mentally retarded, but only 25 percent are - and these people usually have two diagnoses. CP is not in the head but in the body!

Here the teacher can inspire a discussion based on the story of Alex: Alex has cerebral palsy and is 23 years old. She is a happy and lively girl, who absolutely do not want her disability to prevent her from living a normal life. She lives in an apartment and has personal assistance around the clock. Alex says that people she meets often talk over her head and turns to the assistant rather than directly to her. Once they talk to her they scream to make sure that the message gets through.

Why do you think it is this way?
Alex wants us all to treat a person in a wheelchair the same way as we treat everybody else. You can quickly tell if the person you talk to does not understand.

At school, Alex had a problem, particularly in practical subjects, crafts and home economics. Her teacher felt she did not learn anything because she just watched as assistants did the work. They did not understand that despite the handicap she learned and was interested in learning how to cook and sew. She does need skills of her own to communicate knowledge with her assistants.

How will she explain this to their teachers?
When it was outdoor activities Alex was liberated and did not participate because the teachers saw all the obstacles her wheelchair could bring.

  • What opportunities do you see? What activities could Alex have participated in?
  • How would the obstacles be overcome?