Physical Disabilities - what is it?
485 students or 7% of the student population registered with disabilities in Higher Education in Ireland have a physical disability (AHEAD, 2011).
Impact on Learning
- Physical access.
- Difficulty writing, holding or manipulating objects, and carrying out specific tasks.
- Those who use wheelchairs, callipers, crutches, canes or prostheses often find it difficult moving about especially within the time constraints imposed by timetables.
- Decreased stamina.
- Transport difficulties.
- The student may be absent from college for hospital appointments.
- Fatigue and weakness leading to problems completing exams/lectures etc.
For more information on the conditions supported click here
Supports available through DSS
- When the student registers with the Disability Support Service they receive a detailed needs assessment report
- It is a collaborative document between the student and the disability advisor, parts of which are circulated to their department.
- This report details the supports that the student needs at higher level
- The Disability Support Service will also put in place, exam accommodations, assistive technology, and should the student require, act as an advocate on their behalf.
You should aim for comfort and accessibility, ensuring all equipment is fit for purpose and comfortable for students to use. Examples include; lowered work stations for wheelchair users, or large handle or weighted lab tools for those with poor grip strength.
Ensure that the physical environment is accessible, that it has a comfortable turning circle for wheelchair users and that where possible extra power supplies can be made available for any equipment the student may need to use.
Wheelchair users should (insofar as is possible) be accommodated to sit with their peers and not be isolated from the class.
Recommendations for Examination Accommodations
- Extra time – 10 minutes per hour.
- Rest periods during the examination.
- Use of a computer or scribe where handwriting poses difficulties.
How can you help?
- Please refer to the Guidelines on Inclusive Teaching and Assessment.
- Allow for the time and fatigue factors that may arise as the student moves between lectures.
- Be conscious that the student may tire easily and may require rest periods or breaks during lectures, tutorials or class tests.
- Never push a person’s wheelchair without their permission – offer help if you think it is required but do not impose it.
- When talking to a person who uses a wheelchair, sit down (if possible) so that you are both on the same level.
- People who walk using sticks or crutches may appreciate help with carrying belongings or opening doors
- Try to keep walkways, corridors and aisles free from obstructions.
- When walking with a person who uses crutches or a wheelchair adjust your pace to match theirs.