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How Many Of Your Colleagues/Students Have A Disability?

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.239.1 - 1.239.8



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Paper Authors

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Sarah Weaver

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Mark Strauss

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Jenna Caldwell

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

I .— -- Session 2509 . . . -. .

.. . . . How many of Your Colleagues/Students Have a Disability?

Mark Strauss, Jenna Caldwell, and Sarah Weaver University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


For most people who work in the fields of science, engineering or mathematics, it is obvious that very few, if any, of their peers have a disability. Several factors have been identified that contribute to this underrepresentation. These include: 1) Lack of role models for students with disabilities, 2) High school teachers’ inadequate knowledge of accommodations readily available at the college level; 3) Poor to little high school to college transition planning for students with disabilities; and 4) univers~y faculty;s lack of experience in recruiting of and providing accommodations to students with disabilities.


In the 1960’s and 1970’s federal legislation was enacted that drastically changed the educational opportunities for children with disabilities. Prior to this, it was common for children with disabilities to be grouped together in segregated classrooms, which significantly reduced learning opportunities. Presently, pre- collegiate public education is mandated to provide these students with the least restrictive learning environments--i.e., to share the same educational options as non-disabled students through “mainstreaming” disabled students into the standard classrooms when feasible. This process, more recently referred to as “inclusion,” removes major barriers to students wanting to maximize their education, including those with the most severe and limiting disabilities. This is certainly a major contributor to the increase in the numbers of students with disabilities enrolling in and graduating from post-secondary institutions. Another contribution to increasing the prevalence of students with disabilities who pursue science, engineering, and mathematics is the increasingly affordable and versatile technological options in educational settings. Despite the improved accessibility to primary/secondary education for students with disabilities, surprisingly few of them pursue science, engineering or mathematics (SEM).

Underrepresentation of Students with Disabilities in SEM

The largest minority group in the United States is the population of individuals who have a disability. According to “Disability in the United States: A Portrait from National Data,”] 13.5% of Americans outside of care-giving institutions have disabilities; most of them are under the q

age of 65. This large group of working-age, non-institutionalized individuals are in a sense financial y disabled: 27% of the disabled population has a family income under $10,000 q

s only 8% of families with incomes over $35,000 per year include a person with a disability.

-. .- -. - $iil& 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ) ‘O.,,yy?j .

Weaver, S., & Strauss, M., & Caldwell, J. (1996, June), How Many Of Your Colleagues/Students Have A Disability? Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6088

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