The following sections describe each exceptionality and links to information about the federal definitions, incidence and prevalence, characteristics, causes, and educational implications.
Hearing Impairment refers to students who may have limited hearing or may be completely deaf. Some students can be accommodated with hearing aids or other technical devices while others need interventions such as interpreters, manual communication, or speech reading. The major challenge of students with hearing impairments is to learn communication skills.
Visual Impairment describes students who have difficulties reading the board in class or may be completely blind. There are several issues involved with educating students with visual impairments, including access to print (optical devices or Braille) as well as orientation, mobility, and daily living skills.
Orthopedic Impairments is a term that encompasses most physical disabilities that may cause difficulties in school. The category includes muscular/skeletal/neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and spinal cord injuries. Though there are several other disorders that may be included under other orthopedic impairments, these are the most common ones encountered by teachers. Educators are involved with increasing access of their students with orthopedic impairments through the use of assistive technology and alternative or augmentative communication devices.
Other Health Impairments refers to a group of chronic illnesses that may interfere with students'education. These health impairments include asthma, juvenile diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. Though there are several other illnesses that may be included under other health impairments, these are the most common ones encountered by teachers. Students with illnesses may have difficulties in school, sometimes due to their illness, other times due to effects of medical interventions.
Traumatic Brain Injury describes students who have suffered an injury to their brain from impact or being shaken. It does not refer to injuries that occur at birth. TBI can interfere with a student's learning, behavior, and movement.
Autism refers to a syndrome of characteristics of verbal and nonverbal disabilities that children usually exhibit by age three. Besides language difficulties, these students may have problems with social relationships and adapting to environmental changes. They also may exhibit stereotypic movements.
Multiple Disabilities includes students with more than one disability at the same time. Many times students will have both mental retardation and physical disabilities. This category also includes students with deaf-blindness. These students need ongoing extensive supports to be successful in school.