Gallego, M., & Busch, C. (2015). Towards the inclusion of students with disabilities: Accessibility in language courses . Innovative Higher Education , 40 (5), 387–398. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-015-9321-z

Journal Article

Gallego, M., & Busch, C. (2015). Towards the inclusion of students with disabilities: Accessibility in language courses. Innovative Higher Education, 40(5), 387–398. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-015-9321-z

Tags

No age; No disability; Teacher survey; U.S. context

Summary

Accommodation

Specific accommodations were not the central focus; instead, the researcher investigated postsecondary educators' perceptions and experiences of providing for the accessibility of students in language courses, including exam accommodations.

Participants

Survey respondents from educators in various U.S. higher education institutions included 31 language program directors, 75 teaching assistants (TAs), and 16 Disability Services Office (DSO) staff members. Additional information about the educators was reported about their job role experience and experience at their current postsecondary institutions. All educators had varying amounts of experience with students with learning disabilities.

Dependent Variable

Three similar survey forms were presented to participants, based on their role: language program directors, TAs (teaching assistants), and DSO staff members. The researchers designed the surveys to measure degree of agreement/ disagreement with various statements using Likert scale, as well as some objectively-worded multiple-choice and yes/no questions. Due to differing numbers of respondents, the instances of similarities and differences in responses within specific institutions were not calculated separately; instead, the averages were reported for the three educator roles.

Findings

About 77% of DSO (Disability Services Office) staff members indicated that they had worked with more than 15 students with disabilities attending language courses. About 74% of language program directors had met with at least one DSO staff member; 70% had received information from the DSO (initiated by the DSO), and about 90% had contacted the DSO. About 31% of TAs reported that they had met with at least one DSO staff member; about 32% of TAs heard from DSOs, and about 29% had contacted DSOs. Conversely, a small number (less than 10%) of language program directors reported that they were the sole decision makers about accommodations, and less than 20% of TAs reported the same. About half of the DSO respondents indicated that the DSO provided training about accommodations to language TAs. DSO staff members reported their perceptions that TAs and language program directors need more information about accommodations policies and procedures. The researchers noted "This [confusion] could be attributable to the complexity of the various learning disabilities, which results in a need for a case-by-case approach" (p. 396). The researchers also observed that "the majority of our DSO participants stated that TAs work well to implement accommodations and consult with the DSO when making decisions while TAs indicated the opposite" (p. 396). The researchers offered recommendations about collaboration among postsecondary educators. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.