A variety of mobility-related disabilities result from neuromuscular and orthopedic impairments. These disabilities may be congenital or they may be the result of an accident or illness. They can include conditions such as spinal cord injury, paralysis, cerebral palsy, severe forms of arthritis, repetitive motion syndromes, polio/post polio, spina bifida, orthopedic injury, amputation, cystic fibrosis, stroke, and muscular dystrophy. The range of disabilities in this category is large. Functional abilities and limitations will vary widely, even within one disability group. Some conditions are such that the person experiences 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, where the student seems to have no impairment of function (e.g. multiple sclerosis).
DISPELLING THE MYTHS REGARDING WHEELCHAIR AND CART USERS
Some individuals who use wheelchairs are able to stand but not walk.
Some wheelchair users can walk with the aid of crutches, canes, or walkers.
Some wheelchair users have full use of their arms and hands while others do not.
Using a wheelchair may help some individuals conserve energy or move about quickly.
Use of a note-taker, tape, etc.
Extended time for exams.
Proctored exams (oral responses, audiotaped, videotaped, transcriber).
Extended time for assignments due to slow writing speed or medical concerns.
Adjustable tables, lab benches, etc.
Accessible classes, buildings, field trips. (If Fordham University provides transportation for a field trip, accessible transportation must also be provided).
Preferred class seating. Location of needed equipment and supplies in close proximity to the student.
Priority registering and pre-registration.
Give consideration to students with mobility impairments if they are late to classes, especially in inclement weather.
Aid in manipulating tools, lab equipment, etc.
Substitute non-corrosiveo chemicals in laboratory classes.
Consider sitting down when a conversation lasts for more than a few minutes in order to be at eye level with the student.
Mobility disabilities are not always obvious and may be secondary to a hidden chronic illness. Conditions may be influenced by extreme temperatures and other invisible factors. Because the term "access" is relative, those who are considered mobility impaired are as diversified as the appropriate accommodations to assist them: a classroom on the first floor of a building with a ramp but no handrail is accessible to a wheelchair user, but perhaps not to someone on crutches. When the class is moved to a higher floor and there is no elevator or it is not operational, the class is accessible to neither.
In addition to wheelchairs, crutches, canes, and walkers, mobility-impaired individuals often rely on customized vehicles needing special parking nearby, sidewalks with curb cuts, snow and ice removal, and modified structures such as entry ways and bathrooms. Consider the possibility, for example, that repeated tardiness or absence may be the result of delayed service by a specialized van, a broken elevator, unauthorized vehicles in designated parking spaces, or bicycles blocking building access. Furniture placement can affect classroom access as well. Trained service animals may be utilized by these students. Ask to speak privately with any student who has access or mobility concerns which may impact course participation. Remember physical access when scheduling on-and off-campus course components.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS A STUDENT TO BE LIFTED OR CARRIED!