Students with disabilities make up around 20 percent of learners in higher education, but they complete at lower levels than their peers without a disability, according to the most recent National Center for Education Statistics data.
Access and inclusion for all kinds of disabilities are required for compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, so colleges must remain vigilant in removing barriers to access.
William & Mary established an online form for community members to report barriers, allowing for real-time updates and promoting inclusion among campus members.
Stats: Accommodations for Students With Disabilities
Around one-third of students (37 percent) with disabilities never informed their institution of their disability during their college career, according to an April 2022 report from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Of students who did report a disability, students at four-year institutions were more likely to receive accommodations (85 percent) than their peers at two-year colleges (57 percent).
How it works: The university implemented the form in early 2020. Prior, students, faculty or staff members could report barriers through the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Student Accessibility Services or via residence life staff members. However, the university recognized a need for additional methods of communication.
“This type of multilayered reporting option is seen on our campus as a best-practices approach to keeping lines of feedback open with our community,” says Suzanne Clavet, director of media and news at William & Mary.
When using the form, community members designate a category for the barrier (physical, electronic, programmatic or other), the location, concerns about the barrier, whether it’s been reported to someone else at the institution and contact information.
The form lives on a webpage with additional information about accessibility and information on student accommodations, course accessibility and accessibility policies, among others.
Since the form launched, the university has received 117 submissions, which are coordinated through the Office of Compliance and Equity, Clavet says.
The real-time reporting option has allowed leaders to respond quickly to obstacles, such as a vehicle blocking a curb access point on campus, causing an immediate issue.
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