Understanding Physical Disabilities


According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Disability is part of the human condition. Almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life, and those who survive to old age will experience increasing difficulties in functioning. Most extended families have a disabled member, and many non-disabled people take responsibility for supporting and caring for their relatives and friends with disabilities (13). Every epoch has faced the moral and political issue of how best to include and support people with disabilities.” World Report 2011There are many types and degrees of physical disabilities and not all physical disabilities require a wheelchair.
Tips on how to interact with people with physical disabilities:
  • Speak normally and directly to the the person. Don’t speak to the person who is with them.
  • People with physical disabilities often have their own ways of doing things. Ask before you help.
  • Be patient. People will tell you what they need.
  • Don’t touch assistive devices, including wheelchairs, unless it’s an emergency.
  • Tell the person about accessible features in the surrounding area (automatic doors, accessible washrooms, etc.).
  • Remove obstacles and rearrange furniture so they have clear passage.


To Learn More…

Looking Beyond Appearances– using expert knowledge to help students achieve success

Defining Disability a Complex Issue

World Health Organization – Understanding Disability


Online Resources:

Quebec Government:

Régie des rentes Québec – Disability

Santé et Services sociaux Québec – Personnes handicapées

Aide financières aux étude Québec – Loans and Bursaries Program


A guide containing information on the various programs and services offered by government departments and agencies to persons with disabilities. The information is organized by category. This guide is available in French only.

Guide to persons with disabilities

Revenu Québec – Persons with Disabilities – Disability Deduction

Quebec Association of Post Secondary Students with Disabilities (QAPSD)

Travelers with Disabilities

Canadian Government:

Canadian Government-Human Rights and Disabilities

Parliament of Canada – Persons with Disabilities in the Canadian Labour Market: An Overlooked Talent Pool

Technical Advisory Committee on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities

Guide to Government of Canada Services for People with Disabilities and their families

Canadian Heritage – Canadian Rights Reporter – Disability rights

Statistics Canada – Children with disabilities and the educational system — a provincial perspective



Other Services:

 Financial Aid Directory

Financial Support Programs for Children with Disabilities



The Québec Society for Disabled Children

Action Handicap Estrie



 University of McGill:

 Office for Students with Disabilities


l’Université de Montréal:

Soutien aux étudiants en situation de handicap


Concordia University:

Access Centre for Students with Disabilities


l’Université de Laval:

Association des étudiantes et étudiants handicapé(es)


Bishop’s University:

Student Accessibility & Accommodation Services


l’Université de UQAM:

Services à la vie étudiante – Accueil et soutien aux étudiants en situation de handicap