Tips for Teaching Students who have Physical or Mobility Challenges

  • Never come up behind an individual and push a wheelchair without his or her knowledge and consent. Most wheelchairs are delicately balanced (tipsy) to allow the individual to keep the majority of his or her weight on the rear wheels. The front wheels then "float" over sidewalk cracks, rocks and doorjambs to avoid tumbles. A sudden push from behind may cause the wheelchair to flip over.
  • The only suitable manner of gaining multi-floor accessibility is elevators. UTSA has elevators in every classroom building and use is not restricted. Given a full elevator, consider stepping off when an individual who is mobility impaired needs access. This will allow the student who uses a wheelchair or other mobility device to be on time for class.
  • Most students with physical limitations will ask for assistance if they need it. Never hesitate to ask if a student needs assistance, but keep in mind that students often try to do as much as they can on their own. Assistance is not always required or welcomed. Ask; do not insist.
  • When talking to a student in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, it is a good idea to sit down, kneel or squat if convenient. Communication will be enhanced and neck strain alleviated.
  • Words such as "walking, running or standing" are acceptable in conversation. People using wheelchairs use the same words.
  • If accompanying a student who uses a wheelchair from one location to another, walk beside, not in back of, the individual.