Students With Mobility Impairment or Manual Impairment

mobilityStudents use mobility devices as a result of a variety of disabilities including spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, post-polio syndrome, multiple sclerosis, severe arthritis, quadriplegia, paraplegia, amputation, muscular dystrophy, and so on. A student may use one type of device exclusively, or may have a combination of mobility devices depending on the transportation needs. Wheelchairs come in a variety of styles and sizes, with many types of optional attachments available. Wheelchairs are either manual or powered (electric). Some individuals who use a wheelchair can also stand or walk short distances and can transfer to a regular desk. Scooters are another mobility device for individuals who have difficulty walking. In general, a person who uses a scooter can transfer to a regular desk in the classroom and park the scooter outside the door. Walkers, canes, and crutches are also mobility devices which allow an individual a greater range of travel.

Most students who use mobility devices will ask for assistance if they need it. Don't assume automatically that assistance is required. Offer assistance, but do not insist. What looks awkward to you may be the individual's normal way of accomplishing a task and they are confident in their own ability and independence.

When talking to a student in a wheelchair, if the conversation continues for more than a few minutes, sit down, kneel, or squat if convenient so that you are on eye level with the student. Remember that a wheelchair or other device is part of the person's body space. Don't lean on a chair or scooter, and don't move crutches or canes without first asking permission.