Postsecondary education of students with disabilities: Review of faculty and of students with disabilities perceptions for training

Jerry Rene Alliston

Abstract

The percentage of students with disabilities who are pursuing post-secondary education has consistently increased over the past few decades. To meet all legal requirements, postsecondary institutions have established disability support services for students with disabilities. One notable responsibility given to postsecondary disability support service staff was the training of faculty on various issues related to disability in general. The focus of this study was to determine the perceived issues of faculty to students and students to faculty, in a two-campus university system in the southeastern United States, in working with students with disabilities in postsecondary education on the six theme areas: legal issues, Universal Design of Instruction (UDI), characteristics of specific disabilities, accommodations-willingness, accommodations-policy, and disability etiquette . This study used a survey questionnaire which featured the Faculty Priorities and Understanding Regarding Students with Disabilities Scale that was created to investigate faculty members' perceptions regarding issues related to postsecondary education of students with disabilities (Cook, 2007) and demographic information. A total of 121 faculty members, 17%, and 69 students with disabilities, 31%, participated in this study. Statistical analyses included frequencies, regression and ANOVAs. Two of the six theme areas, disability etiquette and UDI, were found to be significant in regards to importance. Only one of the six theme areas, disability etiquette, was found to be significant in regards to agreement. A significant relationship was also found in the means between faculty and students regarding the importance of accommodations-willingness and disability characteristics. A statistically significant relationship was found in the means between faculty and students regarding agreement on accommodations-willingness and disability characteristics. In addition, the importance, level of agreement, strengths and weaknesses for the theme areas were found for both the faculty and students with disabilities. Faculty also reported the venues or forums in which they had received previous disability-focused training and their venue or forum of choice for such training. Based upon the findings of this study, statistical differences were found in the perceptions of faculty working with students with disabilities and also for the students with disabilities. Findings may assist trainers of disability-focused issues in evaluating disability related training needs and current training programs. In addition, the findings may assist these trainers in how to administer training as the preferred venues or forums for faculty were obtained.