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SUNY forms committee to break down barriers to higher education for students with disabilities

 SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.
SUNY
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SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.

The State University of New York has assembled a 28-member panel to examine the barriers facing students with disabilities on its campuses statewide.

Chancellor Jim Malatras said the SUNY Empowering Students with Disability Task Force is charged with eliminating stigma, improving accessibility and creating opportunities for the 32,000 SUNY students who self-identify as having a disability.

"We have to be really mindful that we are doing everything we can to make everyone who's enrolled in one of our college programs successful,” he said. "We have to be more mindful of that broad cross section of our communities. And we have to be adapting and inclusive and really understand so everyone has an opportunity. So, this is really, really important.”

Malatras said 70% of jobs created now need some sort of post-secondary education, and no one should be left out.

He said he expects there are far more than 32,000 students in the system with some kind of disability. For example, he said, SUNY hasn’t done a good job of screening people for dyslexia, a disorder that the system can build programs around so those students can succeed.

“This taskforce is really important as the larger conversation in higher education and beyond is about how do we become a more inclusive community?” Malatras said. “How do we become a more inclusive society, because everyone has a value and everyone should be lifted up.”

Malatras said SUNY has done a good job at addressing physical barriers at its campuses, and while the system is very mindful of that, it’s also focused on academic access and accessibility for everyone.

The task force is expected to release its first set of recommendations in the next few weeks.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.
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