Students Ambulating Independently or with an Assistive Device


Upper and lower body impairments: Individuals who have an upper or lower body physical impairment(s) and are able to walk or move around independently or through the use of an assistive device. They may have challenges with strength, coordination, and movement skills. 

Dwarfism/Short Stature/Little People/Skeletal Dysplasia may include late development of certain gross motor skills, such as sitting up or walking. Some students may have upper body strength (even with short arms) and can apply movement concepts effectively, while some may have upper body impairments affecting the neck, shoulders, and arms, and may require adaptations or accommodations. Some students may have difficulties participating in some activities because of increasing pain with prolonged movement. Lower body strength impairment can include numbness in the legs and shooting nerve pain from the lower spine down to the legs and may result in difficulty standing for long periods of time. 


Upper body impairments: achondroplasia, cerebral palsy, amputations, hemiplegia, brachial plexus injuries 

Lower body impairments: achondroplasia, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, amputations, orthopedic injuries to ankles, hips and knees 

Dwarfism: encompasses over 200 types of dwarfism, the most common being achondroplasia 

Instructional Accommodation Examples 

  • Involve the student in decision-making about the warm-up, the structure and rules of games and activities (e.g., when planning, ask the student what accommodations they may need to fully participate in the warm-up and play the position they want in a game). 
  • Refer to the Individual Education Plan (IEP) for student-assigned adapted equipment to support them in Physical Education (e.g., equipment adapted to the student’s height). 
  • Provide a variety of objects to use to support the student’s varying needs (e.g., use larger balls or rings to assist a student with upper limb impairments). 
  • If moving from one area to another, provide extra time for a student with lower limb impairments and allow for breaks if necessary (e.g., walking from the school building to the playground or baseball diamond). 
  • In small groups, assign roles with designated tasks determined by individual ability and skill level. Have the student participate in the task to the best of their ability (e.g., the student can receive the ball with their hands while another student can receive the ball with their feet). This allows the student with the disability to engage in the activity to the best of their ability and teaches other students that there are different ways to meet the curriculum expectation. 

Environmental Accommodation Examples

  • Provide the option of adjusting the boundaries of the playing area to accommodate differences in height and distance (e.g., lowering a net, varying the distance for traveling skills or for sending the object to the target). 
  • Ensure the playing area is physically accessible (e.g., flat pavement or gymnasium floor without obstructions). 

Assessment Accommodation Examples

  • Share the student-specific learning goals that are being assessed with the student and co-create the success criteria (e.g., allowing the student to choose equipment that works best for them to demonstrate the task). 
  • Provide multiple opportunities for the student to demonstrate the skill in different ways (e.g., take a picture of someone who is demonstrating the learning goal, have the student describe how they can best execute the skill). 
  • Provide a range of tasks related to the learning goal(s) that are being assessed to provide student choice for how they can best demonstrate their learning (e.g., set up mini-games within the learning space that the student can rotate through that provides sufficient space for all players to maneuver to be successful).

Learn more about supporting students ambulating independently or with an assistive device: