Documentation of Physical Disabilities

Students must provide complete, typewritten copies of medical or psychological documents that describe the current diagnosis, the impact of the condition, and recommendations relevant to the college setting. Documentation must be prepared by a qualified professional and be up-to-date for the stated condition.

Physical Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses

A variety of physical disabilities result from congenital conditions, accidents, or progressive neuromuscular diseases and may limit mobility and/or energy. These disabilities may include such musculoskeletal disabilities such as partial or total paralysis, amputation or severe injury, arthritis, spinal cord injury (paraplegia or quadriplegia), spina bifida, cerebral palsy, active sickle cell disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, polio/post polio, and stroke. Additionally, respiratory and cardiac diseases that are debilitating, may affect mobility. Any of these disabilities may also impair the strength, speed, endurance, coordination, or dexterity necessary for college life. While the degree of disabilities varies, it is important to recognize that for many reasons, some students may have difficulty getting to and from class, performing in class, taking notes, and managing out-of-class assignments and tests.

Hearing Impairments

Hearing impaired is a broad term that refers to varying degrees of hearing loss from partial to total deafness. The age of onset plays a crucial role in the development of language; persons with a prelingual hearing loss often have weaker oral communication skills than those whose loss occurred after speech development. The causes and degrees of hearing loss vary across the deaf and hard of hearing community, as do methods of communication. Hard of hearing refers to those individuals who may use speech, lip-reading and/or hearing aids to enhance oral communication. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may utilize a wide range of services depending on the language or communication system they use.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is not always visible, but can be very complex. Depending on the location and extent of the injury, individuals can be affected with physical, social, cognitive and vocational changes – either for a short time or permanently. Students with TBI often exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • short-term memory problems
  • serious attention deficits
  • auditory dysfunction
  • cognitive deficits
  • behavior problems
  • problems of judgment
  • serious anxiety attacks

Visual Impairments

Visual impairment varies greatly. A person is considered legally blind when visual acuity is 20/70 or less in the better eye with the use of corrective lenses. The term blindness can be reserved for those with total loss of sight, and visually impaired can refer to people with various gradations of vision. Most people considered legally blind have some vision. Others who have low vision may rely on residual vision with the use of adaptive equipment. Persons who are totally blind may have visual memory, the utility of which varies depending on the age when vision was lost. Whatever the degree of impairment, students who are visually impaired can participate fully in classroom activities, discussions and group work. To record notes, some use laptop computers or computerized Braillers. Students who are visually impaired may encounter difficulties in laboratory classes, field trips and internships. With planning and adaptive equipment, these difficulties can be minimized.