Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Understanding Our Students

The way disability is understood has been changing and evolving over time. The fight for equal rights has led to legislation regarding civil rights. We no longer adhere to a medical model that treats disability as a problem with the person. Rather, we see functional limitations as a normal part of the human experience.

Disability is something most people will experience at some point in their life, either directly, or through the experiences of a loved one. Featured resources to learn more about how people who experience disability have been treated over time are included below. In addition, there is information available regarding the population of PCC students who have disclosed a disability to request accommodation. Note that there are many more individuals who experience disability but do not disclose.

Approaching disability

Data from Federal and Local Sources

According to the US Census Bureau, 57 Million people living in the United States in 2010 experienced disability. This represents 19 percent of the civilian non-institutionalized population.

The Oregon Office on Disability and Health has released reports as well as a map that shows Prevalence of disability by county.

Trends in the student population

Between 1,500 and 2,000 students have documentation of disability on file, and are registered for PCC courses in any given term.

  • Many attend courses on more than one campus.
  • Many experience disability in multiple ways.
  • Some choose to engage in the accommodation process, some do not.
  • Disability intersects with other aspects of identity such as race, gender, socio-economic status, etc.

Check out the PCC Accessible Ed & Disability Resources Library Guide for additional context and deeper dive documents.

Highlights from the GAO article

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled “Higher Education and Disability: Education Needs a Coordinated Approach to Improve Its Assistance to Schools in Supporting Students”.

  • In general, students with disabilities are similar to their peers without disabilities.
  • More students with disabilities are pursuing higher education.
  • Veterans with acquired disabilities are enrolling at high rates.
  • Assistive technology has expanded educational opportunities.
  • Awareness of disability and accessibility needs to increase.

Information related to specific sub-populations