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Physical Disability


Physical disability or impairment is a total or partial loss of a person’s bodily functions e.g. walking, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and/or total or partial loss of a part of the body. Mobility impairments have varying difficulty with physical tasks and you deal with your limitations in different ways; you may use crutches, wheelchairs, adapted equipment or assistive technology. However, physical impairment may not always be clear for people to see. Physical disabilities covers a wide range of abilities. The same physical disability can have very different effects on different people and can vary due to periods of remission. You may need to learn accessible routes around campus; problems, such as bad weather or crowded pavements can make it difficult to get around college.

How does a physical disability affect my learning?

In most cases, the ability to learn is not affected by physical disability. It is usually the physical environment that can act as a barrier to learning.

Difficulties can include:


  • Getting to the place of learning, and moving around the classroom.


  • Having tables and chairs at an appropriate height, and being able to reach teaching and learning materials, requiring adapted equipment or assistive technology.


  • Being unable to or having difficulty with writing.


  • Having to work harder at every day activities and it taking longer to complete.
  • The side effects of medication or being in constant pain.

Balance and coordination:

  • Carrying and using equipment, manoeuvring around the building and between College sites.


  • Depending on the disability you may not be able to participate in all activities, for example being unable to raise hand to answer questions in a class forum or join in all practical activities.


  • No speech or impaired speech.

Strategies to support learning for those with a physical disability


  • Organise a time for orientation of the environment before the course starts, contact ALS to arrange this and ensure that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is in place.
  • If you have concerns about the amount of time allowed to travel between classes let your tutor know as soon as possible.


  • Ensure that you have been assessed for your specific needs and that you have the required adapted equipment and / or assistive technology that you require.

Providing Assistance:

  • Explain to those offering assistance how and when you would like your assistance, have this one to one conversation.

Conversations and Discussions:

  • It is important that you make your needs understood. You may need to persevere to ensure that you are getting the right type of support to meet your needs.

Clear Path:

  • Ensure that you know your exit routes and how to get from one classroom to another. Make sure desks in your classroom are organised in a way that will accommodate your wheelchair user (if applicable).


  • Ensure that you have a lift pass if required.

Note taking:

  • Ensure notes are taken in a way that is helpful to you and support you to understand.

College trips:

  • Ensure that you are aware of how your needs will be met whilst on the trip.


Last updated: 16th August 2023

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