Students with Mobility Impairments
The term 'mobility impairment' refers to a broad range of disabilities which include orthopedic, neuro-muscular, cardiovascular, and pulmonary disorders. Students with these impairments must often rely upon assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, and artificial limbs to obtain mobility. The mobility impairment may either be congenital or the result of an injury or disease. Common disabilities include spinal cord injury, arthritis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, amputation, heart disease, and pulmonary disease. Some students may have mobility impairments which are not visible; those include pulmonary disease, respiratory disorders, epilepsy, and other limiting conditions.
ISSUES TO CONSIDER:
Physical access is usually the major concern of students with mobility impairments. The student must learn accessible routes to and from classes that do not present barriers, such as stairs, curbs, and heavy doors. Ramps with steep grades may pose problems for some students. A student with a mobility impairment must often take indirect, accessible routes to other locations or wait for assistance in opening heavy doors if no electric doors are available. If such students have classes back-to-back, they might be late to their next class - a point to consider when advising. Sometimes these students have decreased eye-hand coordination. They might also have decreased note-taking and test-writing ability due to weakness or paralysis. In some cases, there will be impaired verbal communication and in many cases, you will see decreased physical stamina and endurance.
Students with mobility impairments students are encouraged to talk with their instructors during the first week of classes to describe their individual functional difficulties and needs. The student and instructor may need to develop adaptations, if necessary, so that the student can compete on an equal basis with other students. On occasion, the location of a classroom may need to be changed. The Disability Services staff will be happy to assist in arrangements.
■ If a classroom or laboratory can only be reached by stairs, it will be necessary to move the class to an accessible location.
■ Tests or assignment deadines may need to be extended or divided into parts due to a student's disability.
■ Students unable to write due to physical limitation may require an accessibility aide or a note taker. Such an assistant will be provided through DS at Ext. 7760 or 7655.
■ If a student needs writing assistance (scribe) to take an exam, he/she should contact DS in advance to schedule a writer. Due to the time needed to make arrangements, "pop quizzes" in class create tremendous difficulty. Either the student must be given prior notice of tests or the instructor may make contact with DS ahead of time to arrange for a writer and a location for the testing situation.
■ Some students may not be able to participate in a laboratory class without the assistance of an aide. The student will learn everything except the physical manipulation of the lab materials. Simply, the student can give all instructions to the aide in order to complete required lab assignments. This aide would be provided through DS.
■ Most students with physical limitations will ask for assistance if they need it. As students often try to do as much as they can on their own, assistance is not always required. Offer help if you wish, but do not insist upon helping.
■ When talking to a student who uses a wheelchair and the conversation continues for more than a few minutes, it is a good idea to sit down, kneel or squat if convenient. Communication will be enhanced and neck strain alleviated.
■ Since a wheelchair is part of the person's space, it is not a good idea to hang onto or lean on the chair - such action is similar to hanging onto or leaning on the person.
■ People often express affection by touching; people are inclined to reach out and pat the person in the wheelchair on the head. Patting the person on the shoulder is a much more positive gesture.
■ Words such as 'walking' or standing' are acceptable in conversation. People in wheelchairs use the same words.
■ If a student's speech is difficult to understand, ask to hear again what you didn't understand.
● Wheelchair-adaptive tables
Wheelchair-accessible computer work stations
Screen emulated keyboard w/track ball access
● "Unmouse " finger digitizer mouse pad
Tape recorders for dictation and taping lectures and classes
● Adaptive Keyboarding software/instruction
● Wrist trolley for Keyboard
● Movable copy-holder
● Monitor shuttles which position monitor
● Adjustable footrest
● Sticky-key software (locks on/off shift and control keys)
● Adjustable keyboard shuttle
● Keyboard wrist rests
● Word Prediction (saves keystrokes)
● Ergonomic chairs at adaptive stations
● Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software