Mamboleo, G., Dong, S., & Fais, C. (2020). Factors associated with disability self-disclosure to their professors among college students with disabilities . Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals , 43 (2), 78–88.

Journal Article

Mamboleo, G., Dong, S., & Fais, C. (2020). Factors associated with disability self-disclosure to their professors among college students with disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 43(2), 78–88.


Attention problem; Autism; Calculation device or software (interactive); Electronic administration; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Extended time; Hearing impairment (including deafness); Learning disabilities; Physical disability; Postsecondary; Specialized setting; Speech/Language disability; Spelling checker; Student survey; Traumatic brain injury (TBI); U.S. context; Visual impairment (including blindness)




Factors associated with postsecondary students deciding to disclose their disabilities to their professors in order to access academic accommodations were investigated. Accommodations were defined broadly, including those offered to support instruction or provided during course examinations. Examples mentioned for exam accommodations included extended time, separate supervised setting, electronic administration, calculator, and spell-checking, and alternative response; exam accommodations were emphasized in this summary. [This study is related to Mamboleo, Dong, Anderson, & Molder (2020).]


Postsecondary students (n=289) with various disabilities from six public higher education institutions (colleges and universities) in a Mid-Atlantic state (U.S.) responded to surveys. Most respondents (over 90%) were registered with disability support services (DSS), while the remainder were not. Disabilities included attention-related disabilities (ADD/ADHD), autism, emotional-psychological impairments, hearing impairments including deafness, learning disabilities, medical concerns, mobility impairments, traumatic brain injuries, speech- or communication-related disabilities, and visual impairments including blindness; these were grouped into apparent/visible disabilities and non-apparent or "invisible" disabilities, and single and multiple disabilities in data analyses. Demographic characteristics including gender and age were reported. Most respondents were undergraduates—in their first, second, third, or fourth year; 11% were in graduate-level programs. The majority (96%) of respondents were a part of an on-campus program; the remainder were online-only students.

Dependent Variable

Data were collected with a survey with three components, which were based on previously-developed measures: (a) the Willingness to Accommodate Students (WAS; Baker et al., 2012), abbreviated with 13 items rated on a five-point scale of agreement or 'not applicable' to each statement and indicating students' perceptions of professors' orientation toward accommodating them; (b) the Willingness to Disclose Disability (WDD; Baker et al., 2012), modified with six items rated on a five-point scale of agreement and indicating students' comfort discussing their disabilities and needs; and (c) two additional items requesting respondents to describe previous experiences seeking accommodations, which were also coded positive, negative, or neutral. Multiple regression analysis was applied to explore how selected contextual factors were related, while controlling for individual respondent characteristics. [This document reports the quantitative data analysis of the study, with the same respondents, as Mamboleo, Dong, Anderson, & Molder (2020).]


The three survey components—student perceptions of faculty willingness to provide accommodations, student willingness to disclose disability-related needs, and nature of accommodation request experiences—were significantly positively correlated. On specific survey items pertaining to exam accommodations, group means indicated highly positive perceptions (over 4 on a 5-point scale) of faculty willingness to provide extended time on exams, and moderate (2–3) perceptions of faculty willingness to provide technology tools and response accommodations on exams. Respondents indicated neutral ranges (3 on a 5-point scale) of willingness to make their needs for accommodations known to faculty or peers. Three factors were most strongly and positively linked to respondents' willingness to disclose: being male, being in their first or second year of postsecondary education, and previous positive accommodations request experiences. There was a significant correlation between positive perceptions that faculty were willing to provide accommodations and positive accommodations experiences; however, these perceptions about faculty were not significantly correlated with willingness to disclose.