Phillips, A., Terras, K., Swinney, L., & Schneweis, C. (2012). Online disability accommodations: Faculty experiences at one public university . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 25 (4), 331–344.

Journal Article

Phillips, A., Terras, K., Swinney, L., & Schneweis, C. (2012). Online disability accommodations: Faculty experiences at one public university. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 25(4), 331–344.


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Extended time; Format; Multiple accommodations; No disability; Postsecondary; Teacher survey; Technological aid; U.S. context




Online course-based accommodations reported by faculty members supported students' coursework completion as well as course examination completion. Specific testing accommodations included extended-time, alternate test formats, and assistive technology.


Faculty members (N=83) from across a postsecondary institution in North Dakota (U.S.) who taught online courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level participated in this survey on accommodations. The faculty members reported having students with various disabilities, including (in decreasing frequency): learning disabilities, health impairments, physical impairments, mental health-related disabilities, visual impairments, neurological impairments (e.g. ADHD), speech/language impairments, hearing impairments, and developmental disabilities.

Dependent Variable

The participants completed a researcher-developed survey about these faculty members' experiences with providing online course accommodations. Participants made categorical and open-ended responses, and the researchers reported both quantitative and thematic data. For example, there were survey items about institutional resources for student accommodations, self-perceptions of their capacity to provide accommodations, and their recommendations for institutional improvements.


Almost one-quarter (24%) of the participants reported having provided online accommodations to students with disabilities that were verified by Disability Services, and 15% had provided online accommodations for students who self-reported their disabilities to the faculty members. Most participants (53%) had substantial experience with online courses (requiring no assistance with managing technology), yet a majority of participants (54%) were uncertain about their capability to manage providing online accommodations, with only about one-third (34%) of faculty indicating that they were capable of doing so. Of those faculty who had provided online accommodations, most indicated their perception that there had been no change in the nature or degree of student requests for accommodations. In fact, they indicated that students already use accommodations from their own resources, choose not to use accommodations, or choose not to request accommodations from the university. Further, some participants indicated their views that implementing universal design principles addresses students' needs without accommodations. Recommendations from participants centered on the need of both faculty and students for ongoing institutional support regarding accommodations for online courses. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.