Development and field testing of the elementary school accessibilty checklist
P.L. 101-476 (IDEA) mandates the educational inclusion of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. Leaders in the field of special education support the inclusion of students with disabilities in neighborhood schools, and many school divisions now indicate that they are using an inclusive model. In such programs appropriate inclusion of students is to take place in school and community recreation programs, academics, art, music, industrial arts, consumer and homemaking education, vocational education, physical education, at meals and recess. Education is to take place in the school the child would attend if he or she was not disabled. Educational technology must be provided to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. If schools are to follow these statutes, then total school and program accessibility must be addressed.
Research and development methods used in this study include: (1) a survey of school divisions in Virginia to determine: size of division, disabilities categories in the division, if an inclusive model is being used in the division’s elementary schools, existence of a written policy on inclusion; (2) development of the Elementary Accessibility Checklist; (3) review of the instrument by experts in school facilities and elementary curriculum; (4) field testing of the Elementary Accessibility Checklist in six elementary schools in Virginia (small, medium, large divisions using an inclusive model and small medium, large division not using an inclusive model); (5) final review of the instrument by expert panel and participating school principals; (6) final revision of the Elementary Accessibility Checklist.
The results of this study should provide an indication of the number of school divisions in Virginia using an inclusive model in elementary schools, and the number of divisions that support the inclusive model with written policy. The accessibility checklists developed will be useful to all elementary schools to determine their level of accessibility, suggest needed modifications in school facilities and programs.