Creating a wheelchair accessible classroom takes planning and flexibility. One of the best ways to determine what needs a wheelchair-bound student might encounter is put yourself in his or her shoes.
Most schools should already have sufficiently wide classroom doors. In order for a wheelchair to safely pass through, the door should at least be thirty-six inches wide. This is also true of the aisles in the classroom. Make sure that any desk arrangements leave at least thirty-six inches of space for a wheelchair to pass between. As more and more schools become overcrowded, this can be a tricky feat for classrooms with over thirty students. Check with other teachers to see if they have a creative solution to their desk arrangements.
If your school does not provide wheelchair accessible tables, bring up the issue at the next Parent-Teacher Association or Organization meeting. Being in a wheelchair brings with it certain physical challenges and it can be difficult to study or work without a proper table. Many of them come in styles similar to the look of classroom desks, so students do not have to feel different from their peers. You may want to consider arranging the desks so the wheelchair accessible one is near the classroom door or in an outer area from the other desks, however, setting up a wheelchair-bound student completely apart from his or her peers is not advised. Incorporate the accessible desk naturally into the arrangement among other students.
Observe the classroom from a seated level. Take a chair around all areas of the classroom or roll around in a wheeled teacher’s chair. Consider how high book and supply shelves are. In elementary schools, this isn’t so much of a problem because all units are built for shorter students, but higher shelves are quite common in upper grades. Think about any posters and other visual learning material on display around the classroom. Are these easily seen from a seated position?