How to Make Schools Accessible for Students with Disabilities

As the school season kicks off into full swing, it is important to remember that education is essential for everyone, including those with disabilities. In the past decade, the number of students with disabilities has grown from 6.4 million in 2010-11 to almost 7.2 million in 2020-21. Physical changes, like installing wheelchair ramps, can make a huge difference for some students and may not require a lot of time, effort, or money to accomplish. Schools must make their buildings and classrooms as accessible as possible to accommodate all their students and faculty.

Here are a few ways schools can make their campuses more accessible for those with physical disabilities!

Make Buildings Wheelchair Accessible

A child’s school years are important for their development as they strive to become more independent. This can be difficult for students with physical disabilities that restrict them to a wheelchair. They often need assistance getting inside buildings, classrooms, and other tight areas. A simple way for schools to accommodate is to install wheelchair ramps throughout the campus. These wheelchair ramps can increase a student’s confidence since they won’t need assistance from an adult to enter a building. The more barriers schools can remove for students, the happier and more confident they will be when attending classes.

Wheelchair Storage

A facility that is often overlooked in schools is wheelchair storage. A defined storage space prevents classrooms from becoming crowded with equipment that isn’t in use. It avoids wheelchairs accidentally getting damaged by other children and removes a trip hazard from the classroom. These storing areas should be next to the classroom allowing caregivers and other staff to access the student’s wheelchair quickly and easily when needed. Ideally, wheelchair storage rooms should be fitted with charge points so that powerchairs can be recharged while the students are in class!

Implement Bathroom Accessibility

Bathrooms can be the most difficult to navigate since they are small, and it’s hard to turn around a wheelchair in tight spaces. Opening bathroom doorways and making a wheelchair-accessible stall is a great first step. Installing grab bars to help students maintain their balance is also valuable and could significantly prevent fall injuries. Also, consider the height of sinks and mirrors since students in wheelchairs may not be able to reach or see them at normal heights. These small adjustments can make huge differences for students with disabilities.

Install Vertical Platform Lifts

Some students may have a physical disability that allows them to walk without a wheelchair. However, their mobility may be limited, and they could easily be thrown off balance between classes with other students in the hallways, especially when using stairs. Wheelchair ramps are simple enough to install for easy access into buildings, and a vertical platform lift can go a long way in helping students inside the building as they move to different areas. The student can stand on the lift and be moved safely without the danger of losing their balance.

Incorporate Hoist Systems

If you have several students that require hoisted transfers, install ceiling track hoist systems throughout the school (not just bathrooms and changing places!)

Innovative track components like gates and turntables let you connect systems in different rooms, allowing students to quickly move from a classroom down the hallway to another room in a single transfer. This makes moving and handling much more comfortable for students and less time-consuming for staff.

By improving wheelchair accessibility, making adjustments to support students with both physical and learning disabilities, and installing equipment to support clinical care, schools can help to make the education system more inclusive of disabled people.

At BEK Medical, we have the mobility equipment your child needs to get around safely and efficiently at home and school. From wheelchairs to scooters and home mobility services, we can set you and your child up for success this school year.

Contact us today or stop by one of our three locations to try out equipment in person!