Disability Programs & Services
  Chaffey College


A Physical Disabilities include speech, visual, hearing, mobility, orthopedic visual impairments or acquired brain injuries.

  1. Visual impairment means total or partial loss of sight.
  2. Hearing impairment means total or partial loss of hearing.
  3. Mobility and orthopedic impairment means a serious limitation in locomotion or motor functions.

There are students with a variety of physical disabilities at Chaffey College. The information below is meant as an introduction to understanding these disbilities.

Hearing Impairments

Hearing impairment is often referred to as an "invisible handicap." Individuals with hearing impairments differ considerably, and each person's case is unique. Hearing impairments range from total deafness to varying degrees of hearing loss.

The age of onset has an impact on the person's ability to communicate. This is especially true if the age of onset occurred before the acquisition of language and the development of speech.

The two major ways that individuals with hearing impairments receive information are "oral" and "manual." The oral method uses a combination of speech and speech reading (lip reading). Although speech reading can be helpful, the individual cannot rely solely on this method because only about 30 to 40 percent of the English language is visible on the lips of the person speaking.

Students who employ the manual method will likely use sign language interpreters. If the student relies on one, the interpreter must be positioned in an advantageous place in the classroom.

It is essential that students with hearing impairments and their instructors meet before the school term begins in order to discuss their specific communication needs.

Speech and Language Impairments

As with many types of disabilities, individuals with speech impediments experience difficulties ranging from articulation problems to total aphasia.

Since the nature and degree of severity varies considerably from one person to the next, it is important that the instructor and student meet before class begins to discuss any special communication needs that may exist. For example: speech synthesizers that are connected to computers might be used as training and teaching aids. These synthesizers can also function as voice output for persons who have severe impairments. Computerized communication boards will allow individuals with speech or language impairments to participate in classroom discussions.

Mobility and Manual Impairments

There are many different kinds of physical impairments that result from a broad range of neuromuscular and orthopedic disabilities. These disabilities can be congenital or result from an illness, disease, or accident. They may include amputation, paralysis, cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, severe forms of arthritis, and spinal cord in ury. Disabilities may also be related to a congenital abnormality such as clubfoot, spina bifida, or absence of a limb. Common results of these disabilities can be paralysis or the loss of voluntary motor functions.

Another consequence of these disabilities is loss of control over voluntary muscles in the arms, legs, tongue, or eyes that may cause awkward movements, irregular gait, facial grimacing, or drooling. Other residual effects of these disabilities include loss of voluntary bowel and bladder control, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and frequent coughing.

Students who are physically challenged may miss classes due to medical problems. It is important for instructors to be aware of this possibility and work with the students to accommodate these situations. Students should discuss this with their instructor.

There are two categories of physical impairments: mobility and manual. The primary educational limitation of students with mobility impairments is their ability to travel. Students who use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and canes have difficulty getting from one class to another in the time allotted.

Vision Impairments

Approximately 1.4 millions individuals in this country have severe visual impairments, and over half of this group is registered as legally blind. Most individuals identified as legally blind have some measurable vision or light perception; their vision may be bluffed, cloudy, spotty, or double. They may have lost their peripheral or central vision; total darkness is rare.

A common misconception is that people with visual impairments hear better than sighted individuals. The reality, however, is that they may frequently make better use of what they do hear.

Students with visual impairments have special needs in several areas. In higher education, reading is perhaps the greatest obstacle with which they are confronted. Because reading requires so much time for these students, the volume of reading can present a significant problem. Reading machines, recorded materials, and brailled books are three aids that students with visual impairments can use to complete their assignments. It should be remembered that not all individuals who are blind know how to use braille.

Notetaking is another problem for students with visual impairments. There are several ways in which they are able to obtain class notes. Students may request a notetaker from DPS who later converts the notes into braille or audiotapes. Other students may prefer to record their lectures. However the students work out the issue of notetaking, it will still take them longer to complete their work and this fact must be taken into consideration.

Mobility is another area of concern for students with visual impairments. Some students have guide dogs; others use canes. Even with these special measures, the students often need extra time to travel from place to place on the campus.

Instructors play a significant role in helping those with visual impairments succeed in their courses. It is important that the student meet with their instructors before class begins in order to ascertain any special accommodations needed.

Testing accommodations are critical for students with visual impairments, and arrangements should be made with the student and DPS by the instructor to have the exams presented orally to the students.

Acquired Brain Injury

The fastest growing disability of the decade is acquired brain injury (ABI), which is also called traumatic brain injury (TBI). In the past, people who died from car and motorcycle accidents, falls, blows to the head, gunshot wounds, strokes and brain tumors, are now being saved by advanced medical technology.

The long-term, residual effects of traumatic brain injury may affect any combination of body systems. Some of these effects are short attention spans, comprehension and memory difficulties, trouble with abstract reasoning, and inability to generalize concepts from one situation to the next. In academics, students with brain injuries may demonstrate significant delays in reading, math and language. Students may also acquire new information at a very slow pace. In the social domain these individuals typically have less flexible socialization patterns and frequently exhibit inappropriate behavior.

Other Disabilities

Students may have other types of disabilities which require special services or accommodations, most of these disabilities are referred to as "hidden" because they are not obvious. The types of problems that these individuals may have relate primarily to their physical limitations. Some examples are heart conditions, digestive disorders, cancer, lupus, renal disease requiring dialysis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, allergies, leukemia, diabetes, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Students who have such chronic or acute health problems may display a low tolerance for prolonged physical activity, and may appear lethargic or hyperactive due to medication. In the case of students with severe allergies or asthma, environmental aggravations such as dust and pollen can exacerbate their conditions.




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