Physical Disabilities

PART 4 - Physical Disabilities

Chronic Health Impairments and Other Disabilities


Some chronic health impairments are visible disabilities, but many are invisible illnesses or medical conditions. These can have a major impact on a student’s energy level and can have implications for memory, mobility, speech, vision, or muscle control. When the disability impacts additional areas, students often require assistance or accommodations as listed in other sections of this guide. For instance, some people with multiple sclerosis experience mobility limitations or vision impairments and need accommodations geared to those limitations.

In some cases, the degree of impairment will vary from one day to the next because of the nature of the medical condition, the medication used, or the therapy required. When illnesses do not follow a set course, are progressive, or involve chronic pain, the student may additionally experience depression, anxiety, or other emotions. Social stigma may accompany disclosure of some of these conditions.

Following is a partial list of these disabilities.

  • AIDS                                   
  • Allergies                   
  • Back disorders          
  • Burns                                    
  • Cancer
  • COPD                     
  • Diabetes mellitus       
  • Fibromyalgia                       
  • Heart disease             
  • Hemophilia
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Renal-kidney disease
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Seizure disorders
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Tourette’s syndrome


Contact DSS if you would like specific information on any of these disabilities or the Internet is also a useful resource.

Because there may be medical complications, students with these conditions are sometimes absent from class more frequently than usual.  When absent, they may be at home, hospitalized, or undergoing treatments.

 Students whose conditions are stable during the quarter may not need any accommodation.

Students whose condition fluctuates may not need accommodations at first but may need them later. They may not share their condition until a crisis requires them to disclose it and ask for accommodation.

The side effects of medication may include fatigue, memory loss, shortened attention span, loss of concentration, and drowsiness. The degree of impairment can vary greatly from time to time for a number of reasons. If you are aware that a student has a verified disability, take this into account when considering classroom responses. If you have concerns, consult the staff at DSPS.


Classroom Strategies

  • Make allowances for the student’s attendance unless attendance is deemed essential to the course objectives. If this is the case, consult with Disabled Student Services. If the student’s performance is adequate to date, it may be that missing some classes is preferable to withdrawing.
  • Provide materials and assignments if the student is able to work at home or in the hospital.
  • Provide flexible time lines for turning in assignments.


Pain and Stamina Issues

  • Allow students to stand or walk unobtrusively during class.
  • Allow students to take a break during long class periods.
  • Some students require special seating equipment, which should be reserved for their use.  DSS can arrange this.



End of PART 4 -

Proceed to Part 5 - Disabilities Affecting Cognition, Memory, or Attention

Return to Faculty Disability Resource Guide - Table of Contents


Physical Disabilities Building:

Last Updated: 6/14/17