A variety of mobility-related disabilities result from neuro-muscular and orthopedic impairments. These disabilities may be congenital or they may be the result of an accident or illness. They may include conditions such as spinal cord injury, paralysis, cerebral palsy, severe forms of arthritis, polio/post polio, spina bifida, orthopedic injury, amputation, cardiac conditions, cystic fibrosis, later stages of AIDS, stroke, and muscular dystrophy. Although many muscular and mobility impairments are visible, many are not.

The degree of severity of the disability and resulting limitations varies with each condition. Some are such that the person experiences pain or lack of coordination. In other conditions, there are intermittent flare-ups and periods of remission, when the student seems to have no impairment of function.

A number of students who use wheelchairs are able to stand but not walk any distance. Some can walk short distances with the aid of mobility equipment, such as canes, crutches, braces, or walkers. Access to facilities is a major concern for students who use wheelchairs or other mobility equipment.

Working with Students with Mobility Disabilities

  • Many of these students will need note takers, tape recorders in class, and/or adjustable height desks or tables. The CSD can help with these accommodations.
  • Some students will need extended time and/or special arrangements for test-taking (e.g., word processor, scribe, audio-taping answers or oral exams) which can be arranged through the CSD.
  • If you intend to hold a class in a new location or go on a field trip, check to be sure that the new site is accessible. If the college provides transportation for field trips, it is required to provide accessible transportation for the student with mobility issues as well.
  • Some students will require help manipulating tools and/or laboratory equipment. An assistant or lab partner, who functions as the student’s hands or legs, also may be needed.
  • When speaking with a student who is a wheelchair user for any extended period of time, you may want to sit down.
  • Talk to the student and/or the student’s counselor about whether the disability affects his/her ability to do activities needed for your course and about particular accommodations.
Last updated: 7/28/2009 6:53:11 PM