Curriculum considerations for physical disability

All students have strengths. It is important to identify what these are to create a positive feedback cycle for the student.

Creative arts

The creative arts can encourage students with physical disability to creatively express emotions and ideas. Consider how you can promote creativity and active participation in activities. Consider making adjustments to your teaching style.

Adapted materials may be needed so that a student can fully participate. For example, thicker pencils and paintbrushes might help with grip, paper can be taped down and placed on slanted surfaces, and scarves, balls and other materials may better engage students with physical disability in dance.

Encourage a culture of respect among students. Consider including videos that highlight the participation and strengths of role models with physical disability.


Encourage the use of devices and objects that best support the student’s communication and learning, and that best fits their bodily needs. For example, some students might learn better with pictures cards that are used along with verbal instruction, whilst others might benefit from audiobooks or text-to-speech technology.

Consider using computer software to help with reading and writing. Discuss with the student's parents or carers and the Learning and Support Team about the ways to approach this. 

Encourage active participation in literacy activities. A variety of methods (for example, reading, drawing, videos) may engage and motivate students.

Placing various textual and visual material and objects in locations that are easily accessible and visible may promote literacy skills for students with disability. Consider having posters on the walls, labels on objects and a variety of story or picture books.

Students with physical disability may benefit from reading storybooks and other written passages multiple times. This could help increase their reading fluency and comprehension.

Provide effective feedback immediately during learning tasks and activities.


Some students with physical disability may need extra time to speak and express themselves. Allow the student to use their preferred communication aid. Some students might use pictures, gestures, or technology such as tablets and speech devices. Encourage the student to use technology that best supports their learning, and that best fits their bodily needs.

Consider teaching other students and staff members to understand and use the student’s communication method. For example, if a student uses pictures and symbols, it might be helpful to encourage the use of a few of these during classroom activities (such as when requesting objects).

In addition to verbal cues and instruction, you can use visual aids, such as picture cards, to show a key learning concept. Consider using material such as captioned videos.

You may need to sound out words with the student, and show how to blend these sounds to create phrases and sentences. Some students might need more time and multiple repetitions.

Encourage group work. Some students with physical disability may benefit from activities that allow them to work together with their peers.

Personal development, health and physical education

Consider making adjustments to physical education activities for students who need support with movement, coordination and balance. 

Encourage teamwork and give the student an active role in sporting activities. This will provide opportunities for the student to participate and give them a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Encourage a culture of respect among students. Consider including videos that highlight the participation and strengths of role models with physical disability.

Consider the student's strengths and use this to guide physical activities. Some rules during sporting games may need to be changed to encourage full participation. For example, instead of kicking a ball, a student may need to carry the ball instead.

Similarly, a delayed defence rule, where students can choose three, five or 10 seconds of delay before a defender can approach them in a game, may be helpful for some students.

Check that the surface of the sporting area is not too slippery or sticky for the student to move around.

Consider what accommodations could be made to sporting equipment. For example, lighter balls, bats or racquets may benefit students with physical disability. Lower basketball nets may be helpful for students who sit in a wheelchair or use a walking frame.

Be aware of signs of pain and fatigue. Look for non-verbal signs such as changes to facial expressions, changes in movement, changes in behaviour, and changes in peer interactions.

Some students may need frequent rest breaks to manage fatigue and pain.

Human society and environment

Consider making adjustments to your teaching style.

Science and technology

Consider the learning environment to allow safe learning for students with physical disability. For example, check that pathways are unimpeded and wide enough for easy accessibility.

Consider the equipment. For example, check that the tables are at an appropriate height for those that sit on a wheelchair and that items such as microscopes can be easily reached by the student.

Check that tables have enough space underneath so that students in wheelchairs can sit comfortably. Consider seating position and duration for students who need extra help to support their posture.


If a student uses assistive technology to assist with everyday tasks, consider using these in the mathematics classroom. For example, if a student uses a laptop with an adapted keyboard, include mathematics exercises that are available in an online format for the student.

Computer software may help students learn and practise numeracy skills.