Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Higher Education Administration

First Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez, PhD

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Randall S. Upchurch, PhD

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Comittee co-chair

Third Advisor's Name

Eric Dwyer, PhD

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Alexis McKenney, PhD

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Isidore Newman, PhD

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Keywords

Career development, disability, physical disabilities, institutions of higher learning, stigma, students with disabilities, work preparation, workforce transition, disabilities and workforce

Date of Defense

5-26-2016

Abstract

For a variety of reasons, college students with disabilities encounter stressors beyond those of students who do not have disabilities. One of the more salient examples is that students with disabilities are required to disclose that they have a disability and to communicate with faculty and staff in order to receive academic accommodations, as afforded to them under sub-part E of Section 504 of the Education and Rehabilitation Act of 1974. Therefore, postsecondary institutions are required to make appropriate accommodations available to students with disabilities, but they are not required to proactively seek them out.

The purpose of this study was to learn about the needs that students with physical disabilities have concerning their successful transition into professional careers. This was accomplished by analyzing how five current senior students with disabilities reflected on their experiences, particularly in terms of using work preparation programs and/or accommodations necessary for them to participate in employment recruitment activities provided by the university’s career services office. The intent of those services was to transition disabled students from the university environment into the workforce.

The findings showed that the students perceived they did not receive a lot of information regarding the services available, and they also expressed that the university should have done more in transitioning them into their professional life. The basic premise is that higher education professionals, key support staff, and administrators who provide work preparation programs, career, transition and accommodation services to disabled students are in a position to help remove informational barriers, facilitate the use of services and accommodations, and to actively encourage students with disabilities to enter the workforce upon graduation. The results of this study may inspire university personnel to find creative ways to get students involved and motivated to seek services available to them, to be best self-advocates to students needing their services, and to understand the transition challenges that exist between academic life and entry into the workforce. By being more aware and sensitive about the needs of students with disabilities, the professionals who work with them might be better positioned to help them experience a successful and more supported transition into a competitive employment and independent life after college.

Identifier

FIDC000754