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New policy for students with accessibility needs

Did you know that less than 20 percent of city schools are fully accessible (335 out of 1,818 schools)? Three districts have no fully accessible elementary schools, four districts have no fully accessible middle schools and six districts have no fully accessible high schools. One district has no fully accessible schools at any level. Even in District 75 — which provides specialized programs for students with significant disabilities — only 27 percent of the buildings with District 75 classes are fully accessible.

In December 2018, the DOE announced that students with verified accessibility needs will receive priority in admissions at fully or partially accessible buildings.

This new policy, which you can read below, defines accessibility needs for admissions purposes and explains how the policy will be implemented for kindergarten, middle and high school admissions.  

Learn more about school accessibility in New York City and how it impacts students who use mobility devices and their families by reading Advocates for Children of New York’s October 2018 Data Brief titled “Access Denied: School Accessibility in New York City.” Information about individual schools, including Building Accessibility Profiles (BAPs) for many schools is available on the DOE's website

Watch a video in which students with disabilities speak about accessible schools »

New DOE policy on accessible enrollment

(From the Dec. 4, 2018 Principal's Weekly)

Beginning with the admissions process for the 2018–19 school year, students with verified accessibility needs will receive priority in admissions at fully or partially accessible buildings. This change will be implemented for students currently applying to enter kindergarten, middle and high school in Fall 2019 as follows:

  • Kindergarten Admissions: Students with accessibility needs will be prioritized within their priority group. For example, for a zoned kindergarten program, zoned students with accessibility needs will receive offers before zoned students without accessibility needs. Zoned students without accessibility needs will receive offers before unzoned students with accessibility needs.
  • Middle and High School Admissions: Students with accessibility needs will be prioritized according to the following rules:
    • Screened programs: Students who meet the selection criteria and are ranked will be prioritized before students without accessibility needs;
    • Unscreened, educational option, zoned middle and high schools: Students with accessibility needs will be the first priority group; and
    • All accessible middle and high schools will prioritize students with accessibility needs regardless of zone or district of residence.

Accessibility Needs: For admissions purposes, a student with accessibility needs is someone who uses a mobility device — such as a wheelchair, walker, crutches, or cane — to negotiate the environment, or any student who has other health needs that require an accessible building. Families have historically been able to indicate whether their child has an accessibility need when completing an admissions application, and will continue to be able to do so. Schools may also flag accessibility needs on applications.

The DOE will verify the student’s need and continue to support schools serving students with accessibility needs. In addition, the DOE will follow up directly with families who have indicated on their application that their child has an accessibility need, and will also review student data and conduct outreach to families with a child who may require an accessible building, but who did not indicate a need on their application.

For questions, email AccessibleAdmissions@schools.nyc.gov.

Related Topics: Special Education