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Limited Mobility Factsheet (for Schools)

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

What Teachers Should Know

A student's mobility can be limited due to disease, injuries, or birth defects. Conditions like spinal cord injuries, head injuries, amputations, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, and cerebral palsy also can limit mobility. Mobility may be limited in the lower body, upper body, or both.

Students with limited mobility may:

  • use splints, casts, leg braces, canes, crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs
  • need extra time, as well as help, moving around classrooms, between classes, and throughout school
  • may be late to class due to problems getting around
  • miss class time to do occupational therapy or physical therapy
  • use assistive technology to help with writing and other activities
  • need extra time to complete assignments
  • need special seats and desks or tables, and extra space for wheelchairs or other equipment
  • need other students or a scribe to take notes for them; or have class lectures, discussions, and activities recorded via video or audio
  • have specific accommodations listed in individualized education programs (IEP) or 504 education plans

What Teachers Can Do

Many students who depend on equipment to improve their mobility need to learn how to use it in many different situations in school and at home. For some, this can be challenging and frustrating.

You may need to alter the classroom environment, revise your teaching strategies, and make other changes. The accommodations you make for your students will depend on the specific impairment and the classroom environment. Make sure the classroom is easy to get around and free of obstacles. Encourage your students to ask for help when needed and to plan their routines and tasks ahead of time.

Have an evacuation plan ready in case of fire drills or emergencies so all students can leave the classroom quickly and safely.

Make sure students with mobility issues are included in all classroom activities and any field trips. Transportation should be accessible to all students.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: November 2019