Deficiencies in accessibility options for students with mobile disabilities can render those students unable to fully navigate a school campus. Beyond the day-to-day inconveniences of not being able to get to a building or classroom, a lack of accessibility is extremely dangerous in the event of an emergency evacuation.

When a school does not update its evacuation plans or provide the proper means for students with mobile disabilities to access every feature of its campus, it personally affects those students in negative and even dangerous ways. Students who are unable to descend stairwells may be left without an evacuation route in a burning building or find themselves in many other life-threatening situations. The personal goal of all school faculty and emergency planning personnel should not be to simply check items off of a list for regulatory reasons, but to provide safety for those individuals with mobile disabilities who are attending the school. 

One such individual who has been affected by this lack of accessibility is Lilly Grossman, an honors student from San Diego who uses a wheelchair due to a rare genome mutation that went undiagnosed for most of her life. Lilly spearheaded and facilitated a sustainable school evacuation plan at her high school after learning about the administration’s lack of safety measures for students with disabilities. Her plan was based on the use of evacuation sleds as a way to evacuate all students from the second floor during an emergency. Following the implementation of Lilly’s new accessibility plan, students and staff are required to take training classes on the use of the sleds to ensure their effectiveness. Lilly’s proactive efforts changed the administration’s views on accessibility for all students and earned her the Girl Scout Gold Award for implementing this project. 

School administrators need to prioritize accessibility for all individuals in K-12 and higher educational facilities, each of which has its own unique challenges when it comes to accessibility.