Perceptions of Appropriateness of Accommodations for University Students: Does Disability Type Matter?

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Purpose: The purpose of this experiment was to examine the impact of disability type and accommodation type on participants’ perceptions of the appropriateness of accommodations on university campuses. Research Method: Participants were 223 university students who evaluated the written symptom descriptions of 8 hypothetical university students with disabilities to determine whether a series of 8 different accommodations would be appropriate for them. Results: Perceptions of accommodation appropriateness were impacted by both the type of disability and the type of accommodation under consideration. The results indicated that accommodations for psychiatric disabilities and invisible physical disabilities were less likely to be viewed as appropriate regardless of how well they addressed the symptoms of the disability. Conclusions: Students with psychiatric and invisible physical disabilities may be especially vulnerable to negative peer perceptions if they receive accommodations. These attitudinal barriers make it harder for students with disabilities to integrate into the college social environment. Students with disabilities who do not feel welcome are less likely to self-advocate to acquire the accommodations that they need and are therefore less likely to succeed in their course work. Our results highlight the importance of programs that encourage the integration of students with disabilities and decrease the stigma of disability on campus.

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