All school furniture does not provide access for a wheelchair, but there are some easy ways to accommodate these students. Ask the parents if the student can manipulate the wheelchair without assistance. Make sure the doorway is free from obstacles that may get in their way to ensure easy access to the classroom. Try to anticipate their needs to avoid mishaps.
In The Classroom
Have an adjustable desk or table ready for the student that has a clear path. Encourage all students to keep their bookbags in a cubbie or locker to keep the floor open and clean. Organize desks in a way that allows plenty of room and access to all areas of the classroom such as cubbies, pencil sharpeners, the whiteboard, and the teacher’s desk. If your class visits a computer lab or the library make sure there are tables or desks that will allow the child to comfortably participate. Place items that the student will use at a height they can reach. Try not to have the student reaching to high or low for anything. It may cause stress or embarrassment, and may even result in the student falling out of the wheelchair. Also, for safety’s sake, be sure the student can get to the exit in case of an emergency.
There is always concern when introducing a child in a wheelchair to non-disabled children. If problems arise let it be known that you will not tolerate students making fun of others. Anyone with a disability just wants to be treated normally. Don’t make a big fuss over the child. There’s no need to think of them as a poor and helpless. The wheelchair enables them to be more independent. Offer help if you see that they need it, but give them a chance to be independent. Try paring the child with a potential friend who can act as a helper unless they have requested otherwise. The helper can be responsible for picking up dropped items and even helping them out of the door in the case of a fire drill or emergency. For more information on how we can help you accommodate students in wheelchairs contact us.