Accessibility and disability inclusion among top-funded U.S. Undergraduate Institutions

Jessica Campanile, Caroline Cerilli, Varshini Varadaraj, Fiona Sweeney, Jared Smith, Jiafeng Zhu, Gayane Yenokyan, Bonnielin K. Swenor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background There is limited data to assess, track, or quantify accessibility and disability inclusion across universities. Objective This cross-sectional study assessed disability inclusion and accessibility at the top 50 National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded undergraduate programs in the United States. We hypothesized that there is no association between NIH funding and the University Disability Inclusion Score. Methods A novel tool, the University Disability Inclusion Score assessed disability inclusion and accessibility using 10 indicators spanning 4 categories: (1) accessibility of built and virtual environment, (2) public image of disability inclusion, (3) accommodations processes and procedures, and (4) grievance policy. Based upon the total points (out of a total score of 100), each university was assigned a letter grade (A-F). Results Of the top 50 NIH-funded institutions, 6% received an A grade on the Score, while 60% received D or F. The mean scores were 15.2 (SD = 5) for accessibility of built and virtual environment (20 points), 10 (SD = 3) for public image of disability inclusion (20 points), 30.6 (SD = 10) for accommodations processes and procedures (50 points), and 8.1 (SD = 3) for grievance policy (10 points). Conclusions Our findings suggest room for improvement in disability inclusion and accessibility among top university recipients of NIH funding. To provide an equitable academic experience, universities must prioritize disability inclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0277249
JournalPloS one
Issue number11 November
StatePublished - Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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