About Chronic Health and Mobility Impairments
Chronic Health Problems
A chronic health problem may require accommodations in classes or campus life. A health problem may cause a student to occasionally be absent from class. Attendance issues are perhaps the most troubling problem for both students and faculty. Instructors have the right to determine how flexible they may be on attendance. Occasional absences might be accommodated, but a student whose health condition leads to “excessive” absences (determined by the instructor) may be penalized for their absences. Only the instructor can determine when the number of absences has sufficiently reduced the student’s mastery of content that accommodation can no longer be made. There should be no expectation that having a disability somehow eliminates those penalties. The Office of Disability Services will never ask an instructor to lower course standards because of a student’s disability.
Chronic health problems may require a student to take a lighter course load, schedule periods of rest or arrange to make up classes during brief periods of illness. Students must communicate regularly with their instructors to be sure their work is completed within any agreed upon scheduled time.
If a student will need to be absent from campus for an extended time for treatment or recovery, ODS will coordinate mailings of assignments to help the student stay more current with classes. The student may need to request an Incomplete for the course and finish the work at a later time. Courses where attendance and participation are essential may require a student to drop the class if absences are deemed excessive by the professor.
Mobility impairments vary greatly among students. Some may have reduced stamina or strength. Others may require use of crutches, a wheelchair, braces, or a motorized vehicle to move around campus. Travel between buildings or within buildings is sometimes restricted, although the College continues to work toward full physical accessibility.
Classroom accommodations might include helping the student obtain a volunteer note-taker. If the student wants help finding a note-taker, the student with a disability should provide the instructor with information provided by the Office of Disability Services that will help the instructor understand the process of finding a note-taker.
Other accommodations might include facilitating making a desk or table wheelchair-accessible, providing copies of instructor notes or lecture outlines, providing for alternative tests or in-class written essays, and pairing the student with an able-bodied student when manipulatives are used in instruction. This applies to lab courses as well.
- If a student will need to be absent from campus for an extended time for treatment or recovery, ODS will coordinate mailings of assignments to help the student stay more current with classes. The student may need to request an incomplete for the course and finish the work at a later time. Courses where attendance and participation are essential may require a student to drop if absences are deemed excessive by the professor.
- A student who is mobility impaired will need to have access to the classroom. A new classroom may need to be assigned if a student is enrolled in a class that meets in an inaccessible area.
- Modifications may need to be made in expectations for students in physical education classes.
- Access - Messiah College is working to improve campus accessibility. Most buildings have accessible restrooms, water fountains, ramps, and/or elevators. Handicapped parking privileges are available across campus as well.
- Dormitory - Room assignments will ensure wheelchair accessibility.
- Library - Murray Library provides wheelchair accessible computer stations. The library staff will assist in retrieving materials from hard-to reach shelves and displays.
- Documentation - As with all disabilities covered under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), proper documentation verifying the presence of the condition is necessary before accommodations are approved by Disability Services.
- Physical Education - PE classes can be arranged for students needing special accommodations due to physical impairment. A PE faculty member, trained in adaptation for disabilities, will be available to offer alternative classes to those who are in need of this type of accommodation.
- Transportation - A motorized vehicle is available for those with temporary mobility impairments. A wheelchair accessible minivan for those who need it. Check with the Office of Disability Services if you think you have need of either vehicle.
Any further assistance or accommodations needed should be discussed with the Director of Disability Services.