Building an Inclusive Experiential Learning Program for People of All Abilities

Team from EnAble India at Breakthrough

Last month, we facilitated an inclusive experiential learning program for 80+ participants for people with and without disabilities. We accommodated persons with vision impairment, low vision, hearing impairment, physical disability, cerebral palsy, and learning disability. The team was from Enable India an organization that provides services for persons with disabilities.

The participants experienced the low challenge courses and the zipline. It was touching the smiles that gleamed through their faces as they experienced the various activities. It was indeed special!

This program needed thoughtfulness to enable people with disabilities to be included. Experiential learning programs offer an immersive and hands-on approach, providing participants with practical skills and real-world experience. At Breakthrough, we designed and delivered the program for persons with disabilities keeping in mind their unique needs. As providers of outdoor experiential learning and program coordinators, it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to experiential learning opportunities, regardless of their abilities.

Starting with Accessibility in Mind

To make your experiential learning program accessible to everyone, we started by understanding the unique needs of each participant. We choose activities where the abilities of the participants where utilized. Where support was needed, we designed support mechanisms that caters to their needs. The Breakthrough campus is wheel-chair user friendly, where toilets and dining areas are accessible. This is a key part of designing an accessible experiential learning program.

The highlight of the program was providing the Zipline to wheel chair users. The wheel users were lifted onto the Zipline cable and then released to enjoy this beautiful experience.

Den, from EnAble India, shares his experience on doing the Zipline activity at Breakthrough.

“As a person with a severe disability, it was beyond expectations that I would be able to experience adventure sports ever. 13 March 2023 will be a red-letter day in my life. Break Through was the place which got me to aspire to move to the next level in adventure sports. After completing the Zip Lining for 20 m that day, I researched and aspired to do the 1 km zip lining in Costa Rica.”

Provide Training for Staff

We educated our staff on how to communicate effectively with individuals with disabilities and how to provide appropriate accommodations. This helped us to effectively provide participants with a more inclusive learning environment where everyone feels comfortable and valued.

Fostering a Culture of Inclusion

Right in the beginning of the program, the full value contract between Breakthrough and the participants encourages participants to participate and set the tone for an inclusive culture. This aspect was essential to the success of your experiential learning program. We encouraged open communication and fostered an environment where participants felt comfortable expressing their needs and concerns.

“We could not have made a better choice than to partner with Breakthrough for EnAble India’s employee team bonding exercises.  It was very important to choose one who understands various disabilities, sensitive to their specific needs and one whose facility is disability friendly.  Surprisingly Breakthrough had all these boxes checked alright.

Our employees had one of the best outings in a long time.  My special thanks to the friendly, patient and inclusive organisers who were sensitive to the needs of persons with disabilities, ensuring that everyone participated in all the activities. The most touching part was to see the wheelchair users participate in the zipline activity.  I wonder how many such facilities enable such involvement.  Every team activity was meaningful, well thought through and executed by them. Kudos to Timmy, Blessy and their ever-cheerful team. ”

In conclusion, designing an inclusive experiential learning program takes effort, but it’s essential to ensure that everyone has access to quality experiences. By starting with accessibility in mind, providing training for staff, offering a range of activities, and fostering a culture of inclusion we created an experiential learning program that is truly inclusive for people of all abilities.