What are Physical Disabilities

disabled-1458754_960_720Physical disabilities may restrict an individual’s ability to move around, perform manual tasks or participate in certain activities. A physical disability can be present at birth, be caused by a medical condition be the result of an accident and may affect fine motor skills or dexterity skills. There is a wide range of physical disabilities ranging from reduced stamina to paralysis and could be caused by back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, amputation, paraplegia, quadriplegia and tendonitis. The use of a cane, crutches, walker, wheelchair or scooter may be required.

Tips for Interaction

Firstly, remember that people with physical disabilities are individual’s first. Recognize that needs of an employee with a physical disability may change over the course of their employment. To assist, open communication is essential. Most persons will ask for assistance if they need it.

It is appropriate to use common phrases like ‘walking’ or ‘running’. During long conversations, place yourself at eye level to a person using a wheelchair. Do not lean or rest on an individual’s scooter or wheelchair as these are generally considered a part of the individual’s personal space. Also, consider modifying office space to enhance accessibility.

Assistive Technologies

There are several technological devices available today that enable individuals with physical disabilities to maximize their strengths. The may include alternative keyboards with non-standard layouts, pressure sensitive pads, mini or split keyboards or keypad entry devices for various functions. Software is also used such as eye scan keyboards that allow the user to select a key from eye level which is inside a small box attached to a pair of eyeglasses. Touch screens can also be utilized by using a finger or a pen.

There are many additional assistive computer accessories. There is the foot/toe mouse which allows the user the foot or toe to move the cursor and activate mouse clicks. There is the optical mouse which translates head movements into cursor movements, often used in conjunction with “sip ‘n puff” switch which a user clicks by breathing in or out of a “straw”. A joystick is a stick shift device with buttons that allows the user to control a computer. There is also the mouth activated pointing device which allows a user to replace a hand motions with the mouth.

If you need more information or help in hiring people with disabilities please contact us at (780) 423-4106.