The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

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College accessibility is far behind

Colleges continue to use old infrastructure
College+accessibility+is+far+behind

Colleges are known as places where diversity thrives, and where everyone feels comfortable to learn. Because what else is a reflection of the impartiality and humanitarianism that universities wish to promote? But colleges are largely jammed into 1960s-era facilities and resources when it comes to providing for aspiring graduates who have disabilities. Some institutions lack the equipment, support staff, services or technology needed to make colleges accessible — even as 19.4 percent of all post secondary enrollments are made up of people with diagnosed disabilities.

Lack of college accessibility weighs on those students, as reports of isolation and stress is the natural result. Disabled students’ rates of graduation and adjustment to college are also lower compared to their non-disabled peers. This is a struggle that both private and public colleges must confront, yet either lack of funding or initiative detains their infrastructure in the dark ages.

Next year, I will be working out what colleges I am interested in going to. I am not among those that will have to consider whether or not their college offers disability adjustments. But I will have to worry about price, location, quality and safety, like everyone else. Being unable to attend one’s favored college because it does not have appropriate accessibility is a real threat for some people. If college accessibility continues to decay, that problem could get worse.

Some people may surmise that the issue of college accessibility is exaggerated or too extensive to tackle. That by trying to address every minor inconvenience of the student body, colleges are being too exhaustive in trying to solve an inestimable problem. But this problem is not made up. It has not popped into existence in order to frustrate school administrators. These are impossible accommodations to make. Colleges can set up offices or programs to collaborate with the disabled community on how accessibility can be approached. 

The truth is, the breadth of cases within the topic of college accessibility is immense. School staff may not know what disabilities incoming students have, and may not have the necessary accommodations preemptively put in place. But colleges can start simple: add bigger font sizes to presentations or learning material. Provide guidance services to disabled students. Add ramps to doorways for wheelchair accessibility. Then renovate libraries to include collections of braille literature. Make campus layout designs concise and make rooms sensory accessible.

For some universities, this will be a challenge, but the longer the delay on widespread college accessibility in the United States, the longer the delay in disabled students feeling welcome in some of the most regarded institutions in the world, which should be seen as an embarrassment. Increasing college accessibility might seem daunting, but the solutions become surprisingly simple when there is motivation for inclusivity. We just need a starting point.

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About the Contributor
Nicholas Garrett, Copy Editor
I’m Nicholas, and I’m a junior. I love to write, read, and practice storytelling in my free time. I also love journalism and anything really to do with literature. My aspiration is to leave college with the tools to become a professional writer and news reporter.  

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