A mobility impairment may be any condition that affects the ability to move, ranging from lack of coordination to complete paralysis. There are many different types of mobility impairments. Some are described below:
CP results from disorders during pregnancy, labor or after birth. Although the cause is often difficult to establish, parts of the brain that control and coordinate motor action are affected. In addition, hearing and sight may be impaired. CP is chronic but it is not degenerative. It can affect one, two or even all limbs and may also affect control of the muscles used in speech. Most people with CP can handle manual or power wheelchairs while others walk with and without mobility aids.
MS is a condition that affects the nervous system. Through a series of remissions and flare-ups, the body becomes prone to scar tissue surrounding the nerves that respond to messages from the brain. Among the abilities affected are leg and arm movement, sight, hearing, and internal organ function. Because of the sporadic nature of MS, students may appear healthy one day and be using a wheelchair the next. Medication is used to control inflammation and pain but some flare-ups can cause serious debilitation. Students with MS often experience varying levels of fatigue.
Athletic and vehicle accidents are major causes of spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are often traumatic and severe. Depending on the level of the injury of the spine and the extent of the damage, the paralysis will vary. Some spinal cord injuries leave people with little feeling and movement in their lower limbs and full control over their upper body. More severe injuries cause loss of feeling and motion and usually affect bladder control. This is called paraplegia. If all four limbs are involved, following an injury to the neck region, the resulting paralysis is called quadriplegia. If severe injury affects all limbs, usually the head and shoulders are the only functional areas not affected. Many mobility and daily living aids are available to help students make use of residual movement. Some students with spinal cord injuries use attendants to help them with personal needs. All have the ability to learn and contribute regardless of apparent limitations.
Physical access to all locations is necessary. This may mean changing locations, altering structures in the lab or on a field trip to allow students with mobility disabilities to participate. The guideline to use is if the learning experience is important for your students, then the student with a disability must be able to participate. Some students with mobility impairments find it difficult or fatiguing to take notes. In this case, fellow students may take notes using NCR paper. The student may tape a lecture or he/she may use writing aids for assistance.
Depending on the exam format and nature of disability, answers might be taped or dictated to a scribe. Exam locations must be physically accessible.
Tips and strategies for supporting students with Mobility Impairments. (You will need Adobe Acrobat to download this list.)