Physical Disabilities refer to the defects or diseases occurring to single or certain parts of one’s organs, muscle, bones, nervous system or cardio-pulmonary function, which lead to serious difficulties and limitations in one’s daily life.
Features of Physical Disabilities
Due to the dysfunction of certain parts of the body, students with physical disabilities often encounter various difficulties in their physical activities:
- Students with defects or diseases in the organs, muscle or skeletal system may suffer from muscle weakness, joint inflammation, muscular atrophy or cyrtosis, resulting in disabilities to walk, sit down and stand up alone or use both hands, etc.;
- Cardiopulmonary defects or diseases, which may be affected by respiratory problems or heart defects, can result in disability to do strenuous exercise, and at the same time a higher risk in getting infections;
- Students with defects or diseases in nervous system may have problems such as incoordination, perceptual dysfunction and so on, which may result in disability of controlling their physical activities at their own will.
Students with physical disabilities may encounter or be bothered by difficulties such as:
- Unable to write or write slowly;
- Need more time to get from one place to another;
- Unable to stand, sit or walk for a long time;
- Prone to estrangement and isolation from others because of their physical restrictions;
- Prone to the feelings of frustration and inferiority because of their need of other people’s help, following a sense of cowardliness or excessive self-defense;
- Causing increasing tension in their social interaction because of their certain physical disabilities which affect their appearances or postures, thus resulting in difficulties in their social and emotional adaptation.
How to Help Physically-Disabled Students
Tips for teachers:
- Teachers should understand the special needs for the students with physical disabilities in their physical activities, verbal communications, self-care and body postures. Make sure to avoid making subjective judgments on their disabilities in all aspects without any prior communications with them;
- Teachers may upload onto the internet the course materials, course books, academic records, evaluations and other materials or information which assist in students’ learning and homework, or send them to students by e-mails, so that they do not need to go to the staff office, library or elsewhere to obtain relevant information;
- In case that a larger amount of work is required to complete the homework, activities can be arranged for students in groups, so that they can collaborate with other students to finish the work;
- Teachers may allow them to use other note-taking methods besides copying (such as voice recorder, a computer with voice input, etc.);
- Teachers should meet their special needs in considering extending the time of examination or the deadline for homework, or providing methods of evaluation other than a written one;
- Teachers may take into consideration in advance the possible difficulties with which they may encounter and to pay special attention to their traffic requirements in arrangements for teaching, experiments, visits, study or internships.
Tips for students:
- Since the students with physical disabilities may vary from person to person in their limitations of dynamic activities and their expertise of static activities, please take the initiative to communicate with them so as to deepen your understanding of them;
- Please acquire from them in advance the knowledge of how to help them in case of emergency;
- Please observe them carefully; if they are constrained to a certain space or verbal communication with others due to their physical inconvenience, you may try to take the initiative to talk to them and gradually guide them in expanding their activity space;
- When taking the stairs or elevator up and down, please make room for their convenience to use the handrails;
- Some wheelchair users see wheelchair as part of their body, do not arbitrarily lean on their wheelchairs;
- When making conversations with wheelchair users for more than a few minutes, try to sit down or adjust your position so that they can talk to you with a comfortable angle and position;
- Do not take upon yourself to push the wheelchairs unless you are required or permitted to do so;
- Please be empathetic and try to experience their daily lives, their thoughts and feelings.