54 Pages


WithSherry Borcherding Diana Baldwin

SUMMARY. This article describes a course in disability awareness that integrates didactic content with community-based Levell fieldwork experience. Course content includes the experience of disability, effective writing skills, peer review, interviewing techniques, and therapeutic relationships. In home and community settings, students interview and observe volunteers who have disabilities. In a teaching role, the volunteer exposes the student to resources utilized and barriers faced by a person with a disability living independently in the community. Professional documentation skills are developed through written assignments. This experiential course provides the opportunity for students to recognize the impact of dysfunction on human occupation and gain an appreciation of each individual's ability and responsibility for self-determination. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH. E-mail address: <[email protected]> Website: <> © 2001 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.]

KEYWORDS. Fieldwork, community-based, disability

As the field of occupational therapy moves toward inclusion of less traditional work settings, community-based fieldwork placements become a very appealing option (Rydeen, Kautzmann, Cowan, & Benzing, 1995). These placements provide students with experiences that enhance their learning without overtaxing the already short supply of fieldwork sites. The PEW Commission report (1992) predicted a shift to home and community health interventions and the need for educational programs to prepare graduates for this changing practice setting. At the University of Missouri (MU), Disability in Context is a community fieldwork placement that provides a client-centered view of disabling conditions. As described in Table 1, the course objectives are designed to teach the interaction of the person-environment-occupation relationship as described by Law (1998). The student is exposed to a consumer model of self-determination based on motivation and choice (Bowen, 1996) for the purpose of learning to appreciate the context of the environment and personal life of someone who lives with a disabling condition. This learning experience occurs prior to the student becoming focused on occupational therapy interventions. The philosophy of the MU curriculum emphasizes empowerment and transformation as well as adaptation in adjusting to life where a disability is present. This concept of emphasizing a person's use of his/her individual strengths and resources within his/her own context is embodied

TABLE 1. Disability in Context Course Objectives

throughout the curriculum (Department of Occupational Therapy, 1998). This course is the first of nine level I fieldwork placements in a variety of community and clinical settings.