The range of disabilities in this category is large. Some examples of diagnoses that fall under the Physical Disability umbrella are Cerebral Palsy, Scoliosis, Spinal Cord Injury, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Muscular Dystrophy, and Arthogyposis.
Some people with physical disabilities may utilize mobility equipment (such as wheelchairs, canes, crutches, braces, or walkers) some or all of the time, and some may not. Some conditions may be associated with pain, spasticity, or lack of coordination. In other conditions there are intermittent flare-ups (when a student might be absent from class) and periods of remission. Because of the vast differences among students, even when they have similar diagnoses, the best judge of students’ strengths and barriers to access are themselves.
Barriers to Access
- Physical access to all parts of the learning environment (including classroom, desks, lab stations, field trips, etc.
- Unexpected disruptions to schedules and routines due to fluctuating symptoms which may impact attendance or meeting deadlines
- Slowed cognition or focus due to symptoms or side effects of medication/treatment
- Expectations to remain in one position for extended periods of time
- Inability to use technology or adaptive equipment
- Expectations to complete physical tasks under time limits
Considerations and Tips for Improving Accessibility
Students’ accommodation letters outline the accommodations they are approved for with D&A. Following delivery by the student, instructors must provide each reasonable accommodation listed. The following list includes suggested instructional tips and practices to consider in addition to the provision of ADA accommodations. (Information about a student’s disability is confidential with Disability & Access, and while a student may choose to disclose their disability, this information cannot be requested by instructors).
- Students may require additional time with getting from class to class. Instructors can provide flexibility with a student arriving a few minutes late or needing to leave a bit early.
- Avoid strict time limits, as physical activities (writing, moving around class) may take longer for some students than others.
- Consider physical accessibility of spaces to be used in the course (classroom(s), libraries, activity and field trip locations)
- Adjustable tables, lab benches, drafting tables, etc. may need to be made accessible for wheelchair users. D&A and Building managers can be helpful resources.
- Students may require assistance manipulating tools, laboratory equipment, and/or chemicals. An assistant or lab partner, may be needed to assist with physical tasks.
- Accessible locations for class and field trips: When instructors intend to hold a class in a new location or go on a field trip, check out information about physical accessibility to determine if adaptations to plans may be needed. If The University is providing transportation for the field trip, the transportation must be accessible
- Report an Access Barrier: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/7977836edcb346fa9ccfeef34bc89df8
- Assistive Technology (Disability and Access): https://diversity.utexas.edu/disability/assistive-technology-2/
- UT Library Wheelchair Accessible Workstations & Assistive Technology: https://web-prod.lib.utexas.edu/about/policies/services-assistive
- Texas Workforce Commission
- Texas Technology Access Program
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