Mobility and Medical Impairments Facts

Student in Wheelchair Photo

Definition

Mobility impairments are often due to conditions such as spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy. Students may use a wheelchair, crutches, or braces and occasionally may be accompanied by a personal attendant. Broken bones, tendons, etc. are considered temporary disabilities and students can receive DRC services on a temporary basis.

Medical impairments are often invisible disabilities, caused by such conditions as arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, orthopedic limitations, post surgery or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The student may have:

  • Limited energy
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Impaired cognitive abilities
  • Inability to write
  • Difficulty walking, standing or sitting for a long time

Impairments may be caused by medications prescribed by qualified physicians, such as drowsiness, thirst, need for frequent restroom breaks.

Functional limitations may be episodic for some students. For example, with asthma or a cancer disorder, a student may have periods when they function without any accommodations, but at other times their functional limitations are quite severe.

Even with the same disability, students with mobility or medical impairments may have a wide variety of characteristics. They may require different types of class accommodations or may need no accommodations, depending upon functional limitations.

Accommodations

Possible accommodations assigned by the TMCC DRC (TMCC Faculty will receive a service letter from the DRC delineating the appropriate accommodations for a particular student):

  • Note taker
  • Extended time for tests
  • Alternative format for tests
  • Flexible attendance (see DRC policy)
  • Registered personal attendant
  • Pre-arranged breaks
  • Preferential seating
  • Reader/scribe for tests
  • ADA table/chair
  • Assistive technology (voice to text)
  • Tape recorder
  • Food/beverage permitted in class

Faculty Suggestions

  • Ensure there are no physical barriers in the classroom, i.e., a chair blocking a walkway.
  • Ensure that all TMCC sponsored field trips and unpaid internship/labs take place at accessible sites. If the site is not accessible, an alternative site with appropriate TMCC staff should be assigned to the student.
  • Provide advance notice of field trips or class changes so transportation/personal care attendant can be arranged.
  • Speak directly to the student, even when the student is using a personal attendant.
  • If a student is a wheelchair user, sit down so you are at the same eye level if the conversation will last more than a few minutes.
  • In the event the building elevator is disabled, contact the TMCC Public Safety Office to request an evacuation chair to assist students with mobility impairments.


For more information about mobility/medical impairments, visit the "From Where I Sit" video series.