Disabilities Task Force
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Recommendations to New York State for strategies to increase access
2. Institutional Commitment within Postsecondary Education
The number of students with disabilities enrolled in postsecondary education has nearly tripled in the past 20 years. According to a 1993 study of 700 students enrolled in 57 different colleges nationwide, which appeared in the Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, summer 1998 (Stebnicki, et al.), over half expressed satisfaction with their accommodations and services, physical accessibility of new buildings, availability of special equipment, and classroom, curriculum and registration modifications. Yet at the same time, many students still described architectural barriers, limited availability of tutors and notetakers, difficulty obtaining taped or Braille materials, readers, sign language interpreters and other types of assistance and equipment. Many students were actually unaware of the services, or reported that when requested, services and accommodations were received late.
Students with disabilities drop out of college at a much higher rate than students without disabilities. About one-half of all students with disabilities drop out, compared to about one-third of students without disabilities, according to the U.S. Department of Education National Center for Educational Statistics. While much could be done at the secondary school level to ready students for the college experience - and New York has made measurable progress in this area - it is clear that much more needs to be done by colleges and universities themselves to ensure that individuals with disabilities view postsecondary education as a real possibility and succeed once they have enrolled.