Music & Students with Special Needs (Special Learners in Music) Special Learners in Music
Bartlett - Established 1884 in New York City

Physical Disabilities

Students with orthopedic impairments have physical limitations or health problems that interfere with school attendance or learning. These students need special services, training, equipment, materials or facilities for appropriate inclusion in schools. These students may have other special educational needs as well. Students with orthopedic impairments may have difficulty reaching or handling learning materials and may be physically unable to participate in an activity. Because of these difficulties, they may be less interested or less motivated to participate.

Teaching Strategies for students with orthopedic differences

  • Adapt classroom to accommodate the student’s wheelchair or other adaptive equipment.
  • Provide alternative methods for student responses. These adaptations can include:
    • Writing on a pad of paper, rather than on loose sheets.
    • Using masking tape (two-inch width is strongest) or a clipboard to secure loose papers.
    • Placing a rubber strip on the back of a ruler or using a magnetic ruler to prevent slipping when measuring or drawing lines.
    • Using adhesive-backed Velcro to attach items to a desk or wheelchair laptray.
  • Be aware of medical concerns, communication adaptations, self-care issues, and preferred positioning of students with physical disabilities.
  • When modifying and selecting appropriate materials for use in the classroom, appropriate considerations include:
    • Using pens (felt tip) and pencils (soft lead) that require less pressure.
    • Twisting a rubber band around the shaft of the pen or pencil or slipping corrugated rubber,a form curler, or a golf practice ball over the writing instrument to make it easier to hold.
    • Using a computer.
    • Using typing aids, such as a pointer stick attached to the head or mouth to strike the keys and line spacers that hold written materials while typing.
    • Audiotaping assignments, lectures, and other activities that require extensive writing.
    • If electronic communications aids are used, the student may need special instructions for use in a music classroom.
    • Create a signal, if necessary, that the student can use if she needs special physical or academic assistance.
    • Allow the student extra time to complete assignments or modify the length of assignments.

Additional Resources

Credo for Support - controversial video

United Cerebral Palsy website

Spina Bifada Association of America

Abledata - Source for information on assistive technology

Oscar - accessibility information

Barbara's Classroom at Education Development Center's National Center to Improve Practice.

Copyright 2005 Project Seven Development