Physical Disability

  1. Definition

    Impairments ranging in severity from limitations on stamina to paralysis impacting physical mobility and movement. Examples include quadriplegia, paraplegia, amputation, arthritis, back disorders, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cardiac conditions, polio/post polio, cystic fibrosis, and stroke.

    Background Information

    Physical disabilities are separate from matters of cognition. When talking to a person in a wheelchair, talk to them at eye level. Take time to understand the person if their speech is affected. Take cues from the individual in assistance is needed with a particular task. Students should let faculty and staff know if help is needed depending on the severity of their impairment. Each person’s physical rehabilitation level is different. In seating students with these types or disabilities in class, every effort should be made to integrate them so that they can participate with their peers.

  2. Possible Accommodations

    Classroom Environment

    • Classroom should be on the ground level floor of building or accessible by elevator.
    • Make sure the classroom layout is accessible and free from obstructions.
    • Moving a desk to allow for seating up front, if needed.
    • Minimize amount of movement in classroom.
    • Work surfaces at the proper height.


    • Notetakers, tape recorders, laptop computers in class, or copies of instructor and/or classmate’s notes.


    • Use adaptive tools and technology.

    In class work / homework

    • Extra time for assignments due to slow writing speed or medical concerns which involve time in a doctor’s office or hospital
    • Partners who can function as a student’s hands or legs.


    • Extra time for tests if there are manual dexterity problems, or provide alternative arrangements for testing, including tests on computer, use of scribes, audio taping responses, or oral tests.


    • Provide an accessible workstation. Consult with the student for specific requirements, then with ODS if additional assistance or equipment is needed.


    • Leniency for occasional late arrivals, particularly in bad weather.
    • A wheelchair is part of a student’s personal space; do not lean on, touch, or push the chair, unless asked.
    • Let the student set the pace when walking or talking.
    • Treat students the same as all other students who do not use wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility devices.
    • Ask the student of he or she will need assistance during an emergency evacuation.
    • When field trips are a part of course requirements, make sure accessible transportation is available.

    If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Office of Disability Services.


Our Mission

Marquette University's Office of Disability Services is dedicated to providing equal access within the classroom setting, through the determination of appropriate accommodations, for students with documented disabilities. ODS promotes accessibility awareness through collaboration with campus partners, the development of student self-advocacy, and through consultation with the broader community. Guided by the university's mission, we strive to support the Marquette community in their efforts to educate all students on campus.