History and Mobility Difficulties
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Mobility may be permanently or intermittently affected by conditions such as cerebral palsy, arthritis, stroke, muscular dystrophy or muscular sclerosis, as well as by the effects of road accidents or sports injuries. Most of the requirements of students who have mobility difficulties can generally be easily met by minor adjustments to the physical environment.
Some students may use a wheelchair or a stick, but mobility difficulties are not always visible. The main impact on study is likely to relate to physical access (to classrooms, laboratories, equipment), participation (in field trips or visits), and uneven attendance due either to the condition itself or associated treatment. Some students may have related difficulties with writing, reading, using computers or other equipment, and may suffer chronic fatigue or varying energy levels.
How teaching staff can help
- Flexible delivery, including the use of electronic media, will be particularly helpful for students who need to be absent occasionally.
- Be understanding about transport problems, which may cause absence or lateness or the need for extra time to move between classes.
- Consult the student about access issues and preferred use of assistive technology before making special arrangements for teaching rooms and equipment.
- Permit tape-recording of lectures and seminars to help students catch up with any sessions they have to miss.
- Work placements and field trips need good advance planning to ensure success. (In a very few cases an alternative may need to be arranged, but this should not normally be necessary).
- Individual induction to laboratory or computer equipment may be helpful.
- Seating arrangements in seminars may need to take account of wheelchair use or other practical issues, but make sure this doesn't marginalise the student. Work with them on strategies which allow them to participate fully.
- Allow extra time for processing notes, locating resources or transcription of materials.
- Examinations and other forms of assessment - adjustments might include a separate room, use of a scribe or computer equipment.
Two case studies about history students who use a wheelchair. In Study A, a student with ME describes how her wheelchair use affects her. In Study B, a student describes what adjustments have been made for her.