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Orthopedic Impairments

Orthopedic Impairments

An orthopedic or mobility impairment, the most easily recognized disability, results from congenital conditions, accidents, or progressive neuromuscular diseases. These disabilities include: spinal cord injury (paraplegia or quadriplegia), ABI (acquired brain injury) cerebral palsy, spina bifida, amputation, stroke, cardiac conditions, muscular dystrophy and polio/post polio syndrome. Functional limitations and abilities vary widely even within one group of disabilities. Accommodations vary greatly and are best determined on an individual basis. The Student Services Assistant is available to assess and accommodate each student's needs.

Accommodations may include:

  • Classrooms in accessible locations and a place for faculty to meet with the student
  • Extra time to get from one classroom to another, especially in inclement weather
  • Note takers, use of tape recorders, laptop word processors, or photocopying of notes from peers
  • Test accommodations: extended time, separate "quiet" place, scribes, access to adaptive computer stations
  • Special computer hardware/software; voice activated word processing, word prediction, keyboard modification, alternative mice
  • Extra time for assignments due to slow writing speed
  • Accessible parking close to buildings and/or tram services
  • Course waiver or substitution for qualified students
  • Special seating in classroom
  • Advanced planning of field trips to ensure accessibility
  • Adjustable tables and/lab work stations


A student with upper body mobility impairment may not be able to raise
his/her hand. Establish eye contact and call on them when they indicate they want to participate in class discussion.

A wheelchair is "personal space" and one should not touch it, lean on it, or push it unless asked. When you are talking to a student with a wheelchair, you yourself should be seated to avoid making the student peer upward at you.

Not all mobility impairments are constant and unchanging; some students may experience relapses requiring bed rest or hospitalization. They may need extra time to make up missed work. The Student Services Assistant will facilitate any accommodations that need to be made.

Exercise is a proven tool for maintaining good health. When one is not able to participate in mainstream physical education classes because of an orthopedic disability, an alternative is the adaptive physical education program offered at Gavilan College. Aquatic Exercise classes that enable students to exercise in the pool, ease the stress of exercise on joints and muscles while giving students a healthy work out. Gavilan's Adaptive Fitness Center offers weight training, stretching and cardiovascular conditioning for those who have been disabled through stroke, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and cardiovascular accident.

The Transportation Specialist will arrange tram services for students who have physical disabilities. Please call Irma Lopez at (408) 848-4875.

Acquired Brain Injury Blind & Low Vision Hard of Hearing & Deaf Orthopedic Impairments
All college information or academic materials are available in alternate media upon request at (408) 848-4865.
For more DRC information, call 408-848-4865 or TTY at 408-846-4924.
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Last modified: January 24, 2015
Gavilan College Red Diamond 5055 Santa Teresa Boulevard Red Diamond Gilroy, CA 95020 Red Diamond (408) 848-4800