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GAO Reports Rise in College Students with Disabilities

On Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, Higher Education Could Improve Information on Accommodations for Students with Disabilities, which illuminates a significant increase in the number of college students with disabilities. Primarily due to mental health issues or attention deficit disorders, the percentage of college students with disabilities increased from 11% to 21% between 2004 and 2020. Students with disabilities who graduated from college were less likely to be employed full-time. Disability services staff and students interviewed by the GAO explained that many students lack awareness or preparation for the self-advocacy needed to request accommodations independently. Additionally, some faculty members are hesitant to provide necessary accommodations. Gaps in disseminating information exist so that neither students nor college personnel receive the information needed to provide proper support. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) does not notify college staff about new guidance on accommodations for students with disabilities, making it challenging for staff to stay informed about how to support students effectively. Considering its findings, the GAO recommends that ED encourage state and local education leaders to assist students with disabilities to advocate for the services they need once enrolled in college. The GAO also recommends that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) play a role in making it easier for colleges to receive new guidance on reporting.


Read the full report here.

Posted:  31 May, 2024

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