NYC schools struggle with accessibility, leaving students with disabilities behind

At PS 110 on the Lower East Side, the halls should be bustling with the energy of eager students, but for Yuvania Espino's family, getting through those school doors has become a challenge.

For Yuvania's 8-year-old daughter, Kira, school should be a place of excitement and growth. However, when Kira and her 14-year-old sister Mia, who bravely navigates life with cerebral palsy, recently attempted to attend a school event, the simple act of entering the building turned into an obstacle course.

"We wait for someone to come remove a chain or wait for someone to come let us in that has a key to the locked accessible door," Espino recounted.

The plight of the Espino family echoes a recent report from Advocates for Children of New York, a non-profit agency committed to educational equity. This report paints a vivid picture: over two-thirds of NYC public schools stand as inaccessible fortresses for children with physical disabilities, including P.S. 110.

"There's a range," says Sarah Part, a senior policy analyst for Advocates for Children. "There are some schools that are not accessible at all, meaning there is no accessible entrance or exit you. If you use a wheelchair, you literally cannot get in the building."

Advocates for Children says that their summer-long study found that 1 in 4 schools have no accessible classrooms.

Part elaborated, "There are some schools where there's some accessibility. Maybe you can access all the ground floor, all the classrooms, all the public spaces on the first floor, but there's no elevators, so you can't get up to the second or third floor."

The study acknowledges that the city is making strides toward improving accessibility in school buildings. 

In a statement to FOX 5, the Department of Education said: "This report acknowledges how far we have come, and the ongoing $750 million commitment in our current capital plan towards our shared goal of making school buildings more accessible."

The DoE says there are 65 accessibility projects in the pipeline. And they are committed to working with stakeholders to resolve those projects successfully.