Teachers should understand that students with orthopedic impairments have difficulty performing many of the physical tasks necessary for typical classroom instruction. Teachers should accommodate obvious motor deficits (difficulty writing, speaking, sorting, organizing materials, sitting, walking, climbing stairs, eating or drinking independently, participating in athletic activities) and also understand the symptoms of relevant medical conditions as well as the side effects of medications taken by their students.
The specific impact of orthopedic impairment on each student depends on the type of impairment, its severity, and individual factors, but teachers can implement strategies like the following on a case by case basis.
-Allow longer response time. -Shorten assignments or extend time limits to accommodate for slower speed. -Allow oral responses. -Reduce demand for copying from the board or overhead by providing the student with notes or outlines. -Provide frequent breaks to prevent fatigue and to improve concentration. -Provide frequent position changes. -Provide necessary assistance with personal needs such as feeding or toileting. -Present material on a student’s dominant (most functional) side, or in the center, unless otherwise instructed by a therapist or facilitator. -Ask whether a student needs more liquids and/or more toilet breaks than do other students. -Provide environmental adaptations such as extra space, rounded or soft edges on desks, and equipment to provide support and stability.
Technology -Insure that the student can always see the teacher and all activities, boards, overheads, DVDs, and other visual displays. -Insure that the student can access work spaces, including laboratory equipment and the classroom computer. Consider height and the degree to which a student’s wheelchair or positioning equipment can fit the table or desk. -Provide instruction in a variety of formats to meet multi‐sensory needs: simplified visuals and enlarged text, auditory input, and manipulatives. -Help students acquire and use assistive technology such as pencil grips, raised line paper, graph paper, speech recognition software, modified keyboards, eye gaze control, screen reading software, augmentative and alternative communication devices (such as communication boards), academic software packages.
Students with orthopedic impairments are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law enacted in 1990. IDEA is designed to protect the rights of students with disabilities by ensuring that everyone receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE), regardless of ability. Furthermore, IDEA strives not only to grant equal access to students with disabilities, but also to provide additional special education services and procedural safeguards.
IDEA mandates that students with disabilities have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that defines the student’s individualized objectives. It is tailored to the student’s individual needs, which are identified by an IEP evaluation. The IEP describes how the student learns best, how the student demonstrates that learning, and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student achieve objectives more effectively. As long as the student qualifies for special education, the IEP will be updated regularly.
Schools are required to provide ALL students the same opportunity to succeed. This means that schools are required to provide appropriate, reasonable adaptations and modifications as well as accessible school facilities for individuals with disabilities or a record of disabilities. A 504 plan is a written document of these accommodations. A 504 plan is also a possible alternative for students with physical or mental impairments who do not meet the more stringent requirements for other special education services.