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Understanding Physical Disabilities. A Presentation on Diversity Awareness. By Beverly Beckwith Seana Dichler Kristin Fleming Tracy Lemus Santos. Our Definition…. “ Physical disability ”

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a presentation on diversity awareness

Understanding Physical Disabilities

A Presentation on Diversity Awareness


Beverly Beckwith

Seana Dichler

Kristin Fleming

Tracy Lemus Santos

our definition
Our Definition…

“Physical disability”

refers to a broad range of disabilities which include orthopedic, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders. A physical disability often impairs one’s mobility; therefore, the individual may rely on assistive devices or alternate methods to obtain least restrictive mobility.

additional information
Additional Information…
  • May be congential, result of an injury, or a side effect of a disease.
  • Some may have hidden or “invisible” disabilities.
for this presentation
For this presentation…

Due to the time restaints of this presentation, we are going to focus on physical disabilities that are orthopedic or neuromuscular in nature.

"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” - Maya Angelou
timeline of history physical disabilities
Timeline of History Physical Disabilities
  • Biblical References
  • 1200’s to 1800’s
  • Early 1900’s
  • 1970’s
  • 1980’s to present
interviews with 5 people who work at the stark county board of mr dd
Interviews with 5 people who work at the Stark County Board of MR/DD


  • Paraplegic
  • Visual impaired
  • Hearing impaired
  • Cerebral palsy– uses a cane
have you ever had difficulty accessing a public building
Have you ever had difficulty accessing a public building?
  • Some older buildings have steps or very steep ramps which makes accessdifficult.
  • The signs for were to go of locations in side buildings are printed to small. The doors are often heavy and difficult to reach the handle and hold open.
difficulty accesses where you work
Difficulty accesses where you work?
  • The bathrooms are the worst, the stall for handicap are bigger, but not bigenough for a wheel chair.
  • The buttons on the vending machines and the place you deposit money aretoo high.
  • A lot of the door ways are narrow.
what could be done to assist you
What could be done to assist you?
  • More push buttons door that stay open longer.
  • Larger signs to mark locations in buildings.
  • Have events where there are paved areas to access vendors and events.
  • Have optional close places for handicap at events.
  • Lower sidewalk
  • Larger bathrooms
  • Lower buttons on machines
  • Lower handles on doors
  • Larger paths and doors
  • Lower counters at retail stores and restaurants
have you ever had difficulty accessing a public event
Have you ever had difficulty accessing a public event?
  • There are limited ramps to get off and on sidewalks and the cub of a sidewalk is too high and steep.
  • Events that are on grass areas are difficult for the wheel chairs to access and for people walking with aides and visually impaired.
  • Some events have special places for handicap but, usually the view is notthe best.
  • Gravel pathways and parking lots are also difficult.
  • All of the people go to events with family or friends because it is so difficult to get around.
  • Do not go out as much because of the need to depend on others
  • Schedule is dictated by when others are available to help
  • Very difficult dealing with winter
  • Extreme dependence on the kindness of others
increasing number of students w/ disabilities
  • few teachers have special education degrees
  • need appropriate education and a safe education environment
  • must know educational strategies and modifications in health maintenance
  • general educators’ willingness and confidence in their professional readiness is critical to the successful implementation of inclusive educational practices
  • teachers must be well versed in a range of areas
  • must be willing to collaborate
  • apply resources given by family and service providers
  • must have an ongoing working relationship with parents
what teachers should know and do to be effective
What Teachers Should Know and Do To Be Effective
  • contribute to feelings of social acceptance and a healthy self-esteem
  • listen to the voices of students with disabilities
  • know that school makes them feel like an average person
  • students want to experience success
  • display a positive attitude/model appropriate behavior
  • recognize they may be in depression
  • kneel, squat, or sit down when having conversations
  • ask person if he/she needs assistance
  • find background knowledge to discover needs
encourage participation and do their best
  • teach every student about disabilities
  • focus on strengths
  • keep expectations high
  • take frequent 1 to 1 time
  • always plan ahead
  • limit sitting for long periods of time
  • assist with testing materials
  • know access is a major concern
  • keep other students under control in class and hallway
what not to do
What Not To Do
  • do not treat physical disability as a mental impairment
  • do not treat students as a curiosity
  • do not stare
  • do not discourage students with a disability from trying
  • do not seclude students from the rest of the class
  • do not accept rude remarks
  • do not pity the student or feel as though they are suffering
  • do not move wheelchair out of reach of student
  • do not lean or sit on wheelchair
  • do not pat student in wheelchair on head
What intervention strategies can be implemented to promote inclusion and equality for this particular group?
Paraplegic journalist John Hockenberry made the point in Wired magazine that disabled people are pushing the boundaries of humanness:

“Humanity’s specs are back on the drawing board, thanks to some unlikely designers, and the disabled have a serious advantage in this conversation. They’ve been using technology in collaborative, intimate ways for years - to move, to communicate, to interact with the world. …People with disabilities - who for much of human history died or were left to die - are now, due to medical technology, living full lives. As they do, the definition of humanness has begun to widen.”

specific intervention strategies
Specific Intervention Strategies

Assistive technology includes any item that is used to maintain or improve functional capabilities.Remember that "Assistive Technology" can mean anything from pencil grips, spring loaded scissors, or slant boards to computerized technology like mouse balls, communication systems, programs, etc

High- tech assistive technologies

1. Head Mouse Extreme (head) or Integre Mouse (mouth)

2. Switches

3. Alternative Key Board

4. Communication Devices i.e. Vantage

5. Wheelchairs/Scooters

6. Dragon dictate computer

Low-tech assistive technologies

Spoon Integra Mouse (mouth)

2. Card Holder

3. P-touch/ Label Maker

4. Alpha Smart

5. Canes or Walker

6. Spring loaded scissors

7. Caddies and Cup holders

8. Trays

9. Fishing Pole Holder

10. Sit/Stand/Transfer Aids

11. Phone Holder Clip

12. Joysticks and Trackballs

examples from above as well as personal examples of interventions i use in my classroom include
Examples from above as well as personal examples of interventions I use in my classroom include:

Integra Mouse

Cord Type

Zipper Pull

Long Reach

Garden Tools

Head Mouse


Battery Powered Card

      • Shuffler

Turning Knob


Clip On Vegetable


Jumbo Universal

Remote Control


About: Special Education. (n. d.). Retrieved April 3, 2007 from


Assistive Technology for Kindergarten/1st Grade. (n. d.). Retrieved April 5, 2007 from


Bella Online: The Voice of Women. (n. d.). Retrieved April 4, 2007 from http://bellaonline.com/articles/art4791.asp

Best, S, Cohen, E. T, Dykes, M. K., Frederick, L. D., Heller, K. W. (1999). A nationalperspective of competencies for teachers of individuals with physical and health disabilities. Exceptional Children,65(2), 219-234.

California State University Northridge. (n. d.). Retrieved April 1, 2007 from http://www.csun.edu/~sp20558/dis/physical.html

Change, M. K. (1996). Accommodating students with disabilities: A guide for schoolTeachers. Washington, D. C.: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Clarke, G., Curtin, M. (2005). Listening to young people with physical disabilities’ experiences of education. International Journal of Disability, Development,

And Education, 52(3), 195-214.


Eareckson, Joni. (1976). Joni. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Employees from Stark County MRDD. (personal communication, March 29, 2007)

Kid Source Online. (n. d.). Retrieved April 3, 2007 from http://www.kidsource.com/NICHCY/literature.html#Physical

Krementz, J. (1992). How it feels to live with a physical disability. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Maine School Administrative District #48: History of Treatment of People with Disabilities. (n. d.). Retrieved April 2, 2007 from http://www.msad48.org/mainfrm.cfm?tpid=1878

Partners in Time. (n. d.). Retrieved April 4, 2007 from http://www.partnersinpolicymaking.com/history/index.html

Reeve, Christopher. (2002). Nothing is impossible: Reflections on a new life. New York: Ballantine Books.

Singh, D. K. (2002). General education teachers and students with disabilities: A revisit. New Britain, CT: Central Connecticut State University.