Today, we’re calling out to all the teachers out there because, whether you like it or not, summer is almost over and the first day of school is right around the corner. For many of you, this means getting to know a brand new group of students, some of whom may be wheelchair users. This is why the team at EZ-ACCESS wanted to take this opportunity to offer suggestions on working with students in wheelchairs.
- Don’t assume assistance is needed.
Always ask if assistance is needed before helping the student. Also, never assume this student can’t do something because of their wheelchair. Focus on the fact that the wheelchair allows this student to participate, not prevent them from participating.
- Face to face discussions are important.
If you’re interacting with this student for more than a minute, be sure to get to their level and have a face-to-face discussion.
- Provide a clear path.
Evaluate the organization of your desks as well as access to each area of the school so that you can help direct this student to the ideal path for them to take. Consider if you were to invite a wheelchair user to your home. How would you plan to accommodate them? Be sure to anticipate their needs.
- During transfers, keep wheelchair within reach.
Familiarize yourself with how your student will need to transfer for washroom visits as well as transportation. If you’re helping the student transfer, it is important to keep their wheelchair within their reach.
- Familiarize yourself with the student’s history.
Our final suggestion is that you develop an understanding of your student’s physical and emotional needs. Learn about your student’s history from his/her parents as well as outside agencies.
Using these five tips, you will not only help your student reach his/her full potential in your classroom; you’ll also set a standard for how the rest of the class is to treat this student. Our hope is that your excellent example will inspire your students to go out and spark a change in how society views individuals with disabilities. Thank you in advance for being the change we all hope to see in the world!