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Two-thirds of schools are not fully accessible to those with physical disabilities, report finds

08.23.2023 | NY1 | “It saddens me that a child has to be excluded from programs that they might enjoy, that they might like, just because of physical disability,” Espino said. “It makes me feel horrible for a parent who can’t really choose schools based on performance, based on what they have to offer. The last thing they should have to think about is, ‘will my kid be able to get in the building?’” 

A new report from Advocates for Children found that two-thirds of the city’s public schools are not fully accessible to people with physical disabilities. There are more than 1,400 school buildings in the city, some of them housing multiple schools. This school year:

  • Only 34% of those school buildings are fully accessible
  • Nearly 20% are partially accessible
  • Almost 5% are not fully accessible, but are in the pipeline for improvements
  • And 41% of buildings are fully or functionally inaccessible.

AFC uses the term functionally inaccessible for buildings a wheelchair user may be able to enter, but which doesn’t offer any classrooms on the first floor, meaning they’re not an educational option for those students. 

A partially accessible school has classrooms a child can access, but they may be cut off from huge parts of the building. “You might be able to get in the door, but there might be whole areas of the building that are totally off limits. So you can’t get into the science lab. You can’t take that class or you can’t participate in certain clubs. You aren’t a full member of the school community,” Sarah Part, senior policy analyst at Advocates for Children, said. Watch video