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The photo shows a shiny red apple, with a stethoscope applied to it.

Health Impairments

A range of medical diagnoses and health problems can have a temporary or chronic impact on a student’s academic performance. Common diagnoses include arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, asthma, AIDS, diabetes and heart disease. Unless the condition is neurological in nature, health impairments are not likely to directly affect learning. But, the secondary effects of illness and the side effects of medications can have a significant impact on physical and mental abilities including memory, attention, strength, endurance, and energy levels (DO-IT: Faculty Room).

Functional Limitations

  • Difficulties attending classes full-time or on a daily basis
  • Issues with physical skills needed to complete laboratory, computer, or writing assignments
  • Inability to manipulate small laboratory equipment or complete tasks that require precise measuring, graphing, or drawing
  • Problem with prolonged sitting
  • Problem working with specific inhalants in a lab
  • Fatigue and memory problems
  • Lack of confidence in abilities to complete tasks
  • Accommodations

  • Note-taker, copy of another student’s notes, or audio recorders
  • Extended time on exams
  • Alternate location for testing
  • Assignments made available in electronic format
  • Use of email to facilitate communication
  • Extended time on assignments and projects
  • Class attendance flexibility, as long as the student completes the projects, exams, and homework
  • Permission to withdraw late from classes without academic penalty
  • Teaching Strategies

  • Modify assignments only as needed
  • Arrange room to accommodate student’s equipment
  • Consider alternatives for writing, such as marking or circling correct answers on worksheets
  • Break tasks into small parts
  • Assist with organization of materials and lessons
  • Reduce the homework amount, taking into consideration the student’s physical ability to complete it in a timely fashion
  • Maintain a communication link with the office of disability staff and tutors to assure appropriate and coordinated instruction and accommodations
  • Be flexible to accommodate the student’s health-related needs
  • Our Sources and Additional Resources:

  • Mangomon: Learning strategies for students with health impairments:
  • DO-IT Home: