About physical disability

Physical disability is a term used to describe any lifelong condition that affects a person’s ability to move, or to control their body movements. Students with physical disability will differ in how much their movement is impacted as there are many different types and causes. 
This includes paralysis (inability to move one or more limbs), chronic pain, problems with muscle tone, reduced balance, reduced ability to make larger or gross motor movements (for example, challenges with walking and running), and reduced ability to make smaller or more precise movements (for example, challenges with writing and doing up shoelaces). Common causes of physical disability include acquired brain injury (for example, after a stroke), spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, loss of limbs and muscular dystrophy.

Some students with physical disability will walk independently, while others will use mobility aids (for example, ankle supports, crutches or wheelchairs). Some students may need support with completing everyday tasks by themselves. They may need extra time to concentrate, learn and practise new skills.


Students with physical disability have different strengths depending on how they might be affected by the condition. Some students with physical disability have great self-determination skills.

Some students are strong visual learners and are able to process and maintain visual information.

School Excellence Framework alignment

Wellbeing, Curriculum, Effective classroom practice

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers alignment

Standard 1: Know students and how they learn


Secondary teachers


Strategies to support students with physical disability. Including: Evidence-based practices, best practice tips, curriculum considerations and other considerations for teachers of students with physical disability.


November 2021. Share your feedback here