Survey of Disabled Students in Design Schools

[ Read the Executive Summary ]


This questionnaire was e-mailed on May 16, 2001 to staff in offices that provide services to students with disabilities. It is a preliminary study with a selected group of schools where Adaptive Environments has faculty contacts in the design departments. It is posted to the web in order to introduce the project and the questions to a wider group of people.

Access to Design Professions is a project directed by Adaptive Environments, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and NEC Foundation of America. Dedicated to the late Ron Mace, FAIA, the long-range goals of the project include recruitment and retention of students with disabilities in design programs. By "design programs" we refer both to physical design, such as architecture, engineering, industrial design, interior design, urban planning, and landscape architecture and to information design, such as graphic design including web design. You can learn more about the project by visiting the Access to Design Professions home page.


  1. To your knowledge, how many students with disabilities are studying design on your campus?
  2. Do you have any past or current experience working with design students with disabilities? If so, what issues of accommodation arose in the course of the students' education? Please note whether these were accommodations that may involves auxiliary aids and services, such as arranging for note takers or interpreters, or accommodations that may be more structural, related to equipment and the environment. This can be a brief answer, in outline form. We may follow up with you at a later time if we need more detail.
  3. Do you believe your design program is accessible? What issues of accommodation might you foresee if students with disabilities enroll in your design program? To assist your thinking about these questions, you might consider the following list:
    • Is there a wheelchair-accessible path to the studios?
    • Do the studios have accessible work stations?
    • Are restrooms associated with design studios accessible?
    • Is there a set of policies or practices for ensuring studio and classroom disability accommodations?
    • Is there accessible transportation available for field work and field trips associated with design programs?
    • Is there an emergency evacuation policy for students with disabilities? If so, how does a student become aware of this?
    • Would your institution provide access for design studies offered by your faculty in other countries?
    • Are students with disabilities allowed to participate in design studios using only digital media?
    • Would voice activated software be provided for students when necessary?
    • Much of studio work involves group interaction. Is there group workspace which is accessible to students using wheelchairs, allowing for group interaction?
    • Are the computer labs accessible? If accessible computer stations are limited, are they portable?
    • Are sign language interpreters available to students during studio hours and at studio reviews?
    • Other issues?
  4. Do you have any other comments about how your campus could be more welcoming to students with disabilities?
  5. Are you aware of any difficulties design students with disabilities had in finding internship placements? If so, please describe.
  6. (For design school faculty only) Have you had any contact with an office of disabled student services? If so, what has been the nature of that contact?
  7. (For faculty or personnel in disabled student services only) Have you had any contact with the design program on your campus? What was the nature of that contact?
  8. Please describe any procedure or policy of which you are aware that a student with disability should follow in requesting accommodations on your campus. Would making requests for accommodations in studios differ from making requests for accommodations elsewhere on campus?