National League of NursingNational League of Nursing

The Voice of Nursing Education

Assessing a Patient with a Disability

ACE-D tryptich


Assessing a Patient with a Disability

Printer friendly version of this teaching strategy

Overview of Teaching Strategy

Effective communication and interpersonal skills are essential in conducting any patient assessment; this includes making eye contact with the interviewee and being at the patient’s eye level. For a patient with a disability, this  often requires sitting down to ensure that you are at the patient’s eye level, so that the patient is not required  to look up to communicate with you.  If he or she in in a wheelchair or sitting in a chair or on a motorized scooter, this is especially important.  

Assessment of people with disabilities must be individualized and free of bias and stereotyping of people with disabilities in general and with those with specific types of disabilities. Sensitivity in approaching and interacting with people with disabilities is essential to be able to communicate effectively and to obtain information needed in planning appropriate nursing care.  The assessment focuses on the patient’s immediate needs or issues, but also addresses the presence of a disability and its effect on the patient’s ability to perform activities of daily living, participate in health promotion activities, and obtain health care.

Learning Objectives
Students will: 

  • Demonstrate sensitive interaction with people with disabilities during health encounters. 
  • Incorporate specific questions and techniques that focus on the needs of people with disabilities.  

ACE.D Knowledge Domains

  • Individualized Care Specific to a Person with a Disability
  • Vulnerability During Transitions
  • Complexity of Care

ACE.D Essential Nursing Actions  

  • Assess Function and Expectations
  • Coordinate and Manage Care
  • Use Evolving Knowledge
  • Make Situational Decisions

NLN Competencies for Graduates of Nursing Programs

  • Human Flourishing
  • Nursing Judgment
  • Spirit of Inquiry 

To begin, use the links below:
Getting Started
Author Information