acpa position on Disabilities and Higher Education

ACPA College Student Educators-International values the inclusion, equity, and accessibility of our association and colleges and universities around the world. Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, conditions for students with disabilities have become more accessible and equitable in colleges and universities. However, this work is far from over. 

All students, faculty, and staff with disabilities require respect, equity, and the opportunity to fully participate in their institutional communities. ACPA remains committed to disseminating information and education to our membership on the subject of inclusion through the lens of accessibility. It remains our collective work to continue to educate ourselves and to strive toward dismantling systems that exclude individuals based on ability, rather than relying on the labor of affected communities to do this work. We encourage institutions of higher education to listen to those with expertise and/or lived experiences making proactive decisions to secure a more accessible and inclusive future for college campuses around the world.

Institutions of higher education must confront their histories of excluding and discriminating against students with disabilities, and must do what is necessary to learn about the problems facing affected students today.

A good first step in acknowledging our past and moving forward is to ensure adequate funding for Disabilities Resource Centers at universities and colleges. National Center for Education Statistics shows that in the U.S., people with disabilities are unemployed at a vastly higher rate. These data have to do in part with internalized prejudices and stigma associated with disability. Our role as higher education and student affairs professionals is to help shift this narrative in academia; our influence spans to every field and discipline, and we have the power to change these systems of discrimination.

Through the Coalition for Disability, which aims to promote the accessibility of our programming and education, as well as the advancement of university administrators to improve service and inclusion for students with disabilities, ACPA College Student Educators-International aims to help advocate for people with disabilities in academia.We must continue to improve our structures and facilities for students and build better support systems for faculty and staff with disabilities.

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