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Who Are Students with Physical Disabilities

Physical disabilities include mobility disabilities, medical/health-related disabilities, and acquired brain injuries.

a) Mobility Disabilities

Mobility disabilities include disabilities that affect motor skills, portability, and/or functional dexterity (e.g., quadriplegia, paraplegia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, amputations, and temporary disabilities).

Things to Consider

Students with mobility disabilities can become easily fatigued, which can affect their concentration. Mobility disabilities can affect the student's ability to take notes and write tests, essays, and assignments, as well as the time it takes to complete course activities.

b) Medical/Health-Related Disabilities

Medical and health-related disabilities include: systemic medical conditions that are chronic (e.g., fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, chemical sensitivity, cancer, epilepsy, heart conditions) or the result of illness, infection, or trauma to the body (e.g., cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain). Symptoms for students with medical or health-related disabilities can be unpredictable and the need for accommodation will vary among individuals.

Things to Consider

Medical and health-related disabilities can affect focus and concentration due to fatigue, pain, and side effects of medication. They can also affect students' attendance and their ability to hand in assignments on time due to unpredictable flare-ups of students' conditions.

c) Acquired Brain Injuries

An acquired brain injury is a traumatic injury to the head (e.g., car accident, falling off a ladder, etc.). This injury can lead to a range of cognitive and sensorimotor impairments, and possible emotional difficulties.

Things to Consider

          Acquired brain injuries can greatly affect

      • focus and concentration
      • ability to process new information, and to recall previously learned information;
      • motor coordination and dexterity.


Updated on October 18th, 2013.