Thanks to all of you who were able to join us at last week’s panel discussion and speak-out on school accessibility. Our excellent student panel (Joshua Stern, Aaron Philip, Emma Albert, and Abraham Weitzman), Dayniah Manderson, who moderated the panel, and April Coughlin, who shared information and data on the need to empower students with mobility needs all provided valuable information and insight. Download copies of the factsheet [PDF] and powerpoint [PDF] given out that evening to help families and individuals make sure they know their rights in this arena.
The ARISE Coalition recommends that the Department of Education (DOE) provide schools participating in the Universal Literacy Initiative and the Literacy Coaches that work with them with a toolkit of strategies for engaging all families, including those of students with disabilities, in their literacy efforts. While we are not looking to dictate any single strategy to educational staff in the NYC public schools, we recommend that participating schools undertake some combination of the promising practices [PDF] listed in the linked document.
In February, WNYC's SchoolBook published an opinion piece authored by Jackie Okin-Barney, the Coordinator of Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE), and Maggie Moroff, the Coordinator of ARISE. In a response to the DOE’s official answer to findings from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office that 83% of New York City’s elementary schools are not fully accessible to people with disabilities, we wrote about the need for more accessible programs for students with disabilities at every age in New York City.
The members of ARISE, including PIE, know how hard it can be for families who need barrier free sites to find the right match for their children, and we want to hear from those of you who have stories to share about your own searches. To that end, we have set up a brief survey available in both English and Spanish. We hope that you’ll help us out by taking time to complete or share the survey.
During our speak out portion of the evening, we also heard stories from parents of students using or in need of assistive technology devices, as well as from educators and DOE representatives who were able to provide helpful feedback.