Travis Murray

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Disabled individuals have historically been treated as second-class citizens in the United States. While improvements have certainly been made over time, disabled individuals still face significant barriers to enjoying full and equal participation in society. Higher education is one aspect of American society still lacking proportional representation of the disabled community. To try and understand why disabled Americans fail to thrive in higher education at rates approaching those of non-disabled individuals, this paper will examine the following: how the history of disability discrimination in America influenced passage of powerful anti-discrimination legislation; how American courts have generally interpreted that legislation to the detriment of Americans with disabilities in higher education, and what is and is not a reasonable accommodation. This paper will conclude with a summary of statistics pointing to the dearth of disabled student success in higher education, as well as suggestions of how the American legal system, and American higher education in general, could be improved to facilitate greater success for individuals with disabilities.