Accommodating Students with Special Needs on Your Performance Tour

Apr 21, 2015

Travel Notes

You want to make your trip a special experience for every student in your group.  A student with special needs, though, might wonder if the trip is even possible for them.  It’s important that every student feels like they can have an equally great time on the trip, no matter what their needs might be.  Here are a few things to consider:

Before the Trip

Have a discussion with the student with special needs and their parents.  What sort of accommodations might be required?  How well can the student manage his or her own care, and will the student require assistance from an adult?  What concerns do the student and his or her parents have going into the tour?

When you determine what accommodations the student with special needs may have, share the information with all parties that might need to know. Assign the student with special needs to a chaperone that is willing and able to assist them if needed–a chaperone with medical training may be especially valuable in this case.  Remember that motor coaches and hotels need to make arrangements ahead of time to accommodate students with mobility aids such as wheelchairs.  To accommodate dietary needs, a restaurant might need to pre-order ingredients that are not normally kept in stock.  Your travel consultant can handle these arrangements for you–just let them know!

On the Road

Motor coaches and planes can often make accommodations for students with special needs, when given advance notice.  It is important to notify your BRT representative of this need as soon as it is known to you, as these coaches are limited in number.

As you board your transportation, whether by plane or a motor coach, double check that any medication is carried on, rather than stowed in checked baggage.  Even on a motor coach, it may be difficult to locate and unload the bag carrying the medication if it is stowed.

At the Hotel

Hotels have a limited number of ADA-accessible rooms, and the sooner your travel consultant is able to make the hotel aware of your student with special needs, the easier it will be for the hotel to guarantee that your block of rooms will include one.

A little extra attention may be required on your part during room and chaperone assignments if a student with special needs will require assistance from an adult to manage care.  The chaperone assigned may need to make an extra stop at that room at the beginning and end of the day to assist.  If the student’s parent is a chaperone on the tour, they might find it easiest to share a room with their child.

At a Restaurant

Restaurants that frequently host student groups make a reasonable effort to accommodate dietary special needs of any kind, but always appreciate, and often require, some notice beforehand. Your travel consultant will provide you with a dietary restrictions form—having your students and their parents fill this form out accurately and completely is vital to a safe and incident free tour.  The information on the form should give both the tour director and the restaurant staff all the information they need.  Keep in mind, while restaurants will make an effort to accommodate, places that offer a limited menu (a fast food service, for example) may not be able to meet certain needs.

While a dietary restriction form is a must for students with food allergies, it is equally important that any student with a special diet fill out the form as well—whether that diet is necessary for health or religious reasons.  In some cases, the chef may even wish to discuss the modified menu directly with the group as an extra precaution.  Even with precautions in place—if a student has medication for use in case of an allergic reaction, we strongly recommend that they keep a dose handy.

On the Town

Student tours keep a fast pace!  A student with special needs may find that, even if they can get around without assistance under normal circumstances, a particular injury or health condition might be aggravated by the travel.  Those students might wish to use a mobility aid such as a wheelchair during the tour—if they don’t already have one, arrangements can usually be made to rent one at the destination.  Keep in mind that certain historic buildings may not be accessible to patrons with mobility conditions—but your travel consultant and tour director may be able to come up with solutions if this challenge is presented.

Popular tour destinations are often crowded, and students with certain conditions such as autism or Asperger’s Syndrome may not be comfortable in crowds or have difficulty waiting in lines.  Assign a chaperone to be close by in these situations, and ensure that the chaperone knows what to do to make the student comfortable.

At the Performance

The performance is the highlight of your tour, and every student should get a chance to shine!  Whether your group stands on risers or marches in parades, our travel consultants often find ways to get students with special needs into the spotlight with their friends. As with the other needs mentioned above, the important piece is to communicate those needs to your travel planner well in advance, so we can ensure that all of the details are in place for your students.

With a little extra forethought, every student in your group can take part in the unique and special experience of a student tour! Contact our team today to give your students this chance.

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