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.
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.
Along with our co-host, the Mental Health Association of New York City, we welcomed a great panel that included Dana Ashley from the Positive Learning Collaborative, Amy Breglio from the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children of New York, and Lisa Hunter Romanelli from the REACH Institute. In front of a packed room, our panelists:
And then, we heard from community members — parents, educators, and advocates — also about struggles with children reading far below grade level; schools offering little support to address students’ needs but proposing instead to hold students back; and parents eager to advocate on behalf of their children but uncertain what they could and should ask for from their schools. Again, we heard a few success stories. Our first parent speaker spoke to the room with her son by her side — her son whose school years started off incredibly rough because of his disability and his school’s unpreparedness to meet his needs, but who will be graduating with a Regents Diploma in a few weeks.
With planning, resources, training, and support, our schools can teach our students to read and write — not just decoding, but comprehending what’s in front of them. We heard it last night. The ARISE Coalition will continue to advocate for improved literacy skills for all students, including students with disabilities, but we need your help! If you haven’t yet, please sign our letter to the Chancellor, asking her to plan for and dedicate the resources necessary to prepare all school and district level staff to teach all our children to read and write.