Stein, K. F. (2013). DSS and accommodations in higher education: Perceptions of students with psychological disabilities . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 26 (2), 145–161.

Journal Article
Stein, K. F. (2013). DSS and accommodations in higher education: Perceptions of students with psychological disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 26(2), 145–161.


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Attention problem; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Extended time; Learning disabilities; Multiple disabilities; Postsecondary; Specialized setting; U.S. context




Accommodations in this qualitative grounded theory study of postsecondary students' accommodations experiences supported by the disabled student services (DSS) office, and included academic supports in postsecondary classrooms, and accommodations provided during course examinations. This summary emphasizes the latter, such as extended time and separate individual setting.


Postsecondary students (n=16) with psychologically-related disabilities—such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder—participated in interviews with the researcher. Additional information about gender, race/ethnicity, age, college year, and major course of study was also reported, for these students from a regional university in a Mid-Atlantic state (U.S.).

Dependent Variable

There were no explicit dependent variables manipulated in this qualitative study, and semi-structured interviews with a series of questions and follow-up probes were used to gather data.


The researcher detailed participants' perceptions of the benefits and challenges of using academic accommodations, including during course exams. Participants reported that he most frequently used accommodations were accommodations during exams (e.g., extended time and distraction-free setting) and note taker or access to instructors' notes. The challenges related to their disabilities included limits in ability to concentrate during classes, to complete testing in a set time or in a large group setting, and feeling anxious when attending certain classes. They noted the challenge regarding taking exams in a quiet space but without availability of the professor to clarify exam questions. Future research directions were suggested.