Mobility Impairments

Many types of orthopedic or neuromuscular impairments can impact mobility. These include, but are not limited to, amputation, paralysis, cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, and spinal cord injury. Lower body impairments may require the use of canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. Upper body impairments may include limited use or no use of the arms and hands.

Mobility impairments can impact students in several ways. Some students may need extra time to get from one class to another, enter buildings, or maneuver in small spaces. Mobility impairments can also impact a student's ability to manipulate objects, turn pages, write with a pen or pencil, type at a keyboard, and/or retrieve research materials. Medical conditions such as arthritis can impact fine motor abilities and decrease endurance.

Mobility impairments can be permanent or temporary. A broken bone or surgical procedure can temporarily impact a student's ability to walk independently and travel between classrooms in a timely manner. A student’s physical abilities may vary from day to day, or vary in different circumstances. For example, some students may be able to use a walker for short distances within a classroom but need a wheelchair or scooter for longer distances. Getting to fieldwork sites may require accessible transportation.

Accommodations

Typical accommodations for students with mobility impairments include:

  • accessible locations for classrooms, labs, work sites, and field trips
  • wide aisles and uncluttered work areas
  • adjustable height and tilt tables
  • equipment located within reach
  • note takers, scribes, and lab assistants
  • group lab or work assignments
  • extended exam time or alternative testing arrangements
  • computers with speech input, Morse code, and alternative keyboards
  • access to disability parking spaces, wheelchair ramps, curb cuts, and elevators
  • class materials available in electronic format

When speaking with a student in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, sit down or move back to create a more comfortable angle for conversation.

Specific Academic Activities

Related Links

Working Together: Computers and People with Mobility Impairments (video, brochure)

Consult the AccessComputing Knowledge Base

The AccessComputing Knowledge Base contains Q&As, Case Studies, and Promising Practices.