School Facilities:

Accessibility for the Disabled Still an Issue

HEHS-96-73: Published: Dec 29, 1995. Publicly Released: Dec 29, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the accessibility of public schools to the disabled.

GAO found that: (1) while schools receiving federal financial assistance have been required to be accessible to the disabled since 1970, schools' accessibility to the disabled has not been comprehensively evaluated; (2) the Americans with Disabilities Act has further highlighted the need to improve schools' accessibility; (3) while over half of the schools nationwide have spent a total of $1.5 billion in the last 3 years to improve accessibility, about 20 percent of schools reported that such spending is not needed; (4) although schools spent an average of $40,000 on accessibility, about 80 percent of schools spent less than that amount; (5) 56 percent of schools estimated that they would need an additional $5.2 billion for accessibility in the next 3 years; and (6) the characteristics of schools most likely to spend the most on improving accessibility include over 600 students, of secondary level, in urban areas, in the northeast region, and having over 50 percent minority students; (7) school districts are not required by law to make each facility fully accessible to the disabled, as funding may not be available to make necessary improvements.

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