Increasing Accessibility In The Classroom: NYC Schools

This is the first post from SLP’s guest blogger and summer intern, Juliana Castro.  Juliana is a junior at Wesleyan University.

A few years ago, 6th graders in SLP’s Residency Program tackled the issue of accessibility in NYC, specifically with regard to transportation.  But, too often, public schools themselves are not accessible.

What would it be like to not be able to physically enter a classroom space, the library, the gym, or to be unable to even enter the main door into school? School is a period of time for children and teens to explore, grow, and learn but children with physical disabilities find it increasingly hard to attend school in the city.  Every day, they say, they are reminded that they have a disability and that they cannot experience school in the same way as their peers.  According to WNYC, only 17% of New York City schools are fully accessible and comply with federal regulations, making it hard for young students like Aron Phillips with cerebral palsy to learn in the classroom. He says he often feels isolated within the narrow halls of his school and that other students are not mindful of him. Because of the unreliable and inefficient bus transportation system his school provides, Aron has missed weeks of school throughout the year. Eighht grader Emma Albert uses a wheelchair and has never been able to enter school through the front door; instead, she uses the side entrance every morning.

Judging by personal accounts of students with physical disabilities, NYC schools have a long way to go before students with disabilities are fully able to participate in school life.