Squires, M. E., Burnell, B. A., McCarty, C., & Schnackenberg, H. (2018). Emerging adults: Perspectives of college students with disabilities . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 31 (2), 121–134. https://www.ahead.org/publications/jped

Journal Article

Squires, M. E., Burnell, B. A., McCarty, C., & Schnackenberg, H. (2018). Emerging adults: Perspectives of college students with disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 31(2), 121–134. https://www.ahead.org/publications/jped


[no doi located]; Also downloadable from ERIC online database: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1192068


Accommodation/s not specified; Autism; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Hearing impairment (including deafness); Learning disabilities; Multiple disabilities; Physical disability; Postsecondary; Speech/Language disability; Student survey; Traumatic brain injury (TBI); U.S. context; Visual impairment (including blindness)





Accommodations were not specified; perceptions about accommodations at the postsecondary level and some students' decisions not to disclose their disabilities were investigated. [A related study (Squires & Countermine, 2018) was a different analysis of data from a sample of this study's participants.]


A sample of data was drawn from a larger project and included 45 postsecondary students who self-disclosed having disabilities; 45 students responded to a survey and 12 respondents also participated in interviews. The respondents were undergraduate (about 67%) and graduate-level (about 33%) students enrolled in eight different professional preparation degree programs—about 50% were in teacher education—at one public university in the state of New York (U.S.). Respondents included either part-time or full-time students during the 2014–2015 academic year. Nine disability categories were represented (in decreasing order of frequency): Specific Learning Disability, Other Health Impairment, Emotional Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Physical Impairment, Visual Impairment, Speech-Language Impairment, Hearing Impairment, and Traumatic Brain Injury; seven students reported having more than one disability. Demographic data such as age, gender, and race/ethnicity were also collected.

Dependent Variable

A survey developed by the authors was completed by all 45 respondents, and a follow-up interview elaborating on survey items was participated in by 12 of these respondents. In addition to student characteristics, survey questions addressed strengths, challenges, whether they self-disclosed about their disabilities and associated responses or their reasons for not doing so, and accommodations and services they were using if any. Interview questions included follow-up clarifications of survey responses, and focused on academic supports (accommodations and services), participants' challenges and ways they addressed them, and further details about student disabilities.


There was a range of internal and external factors, as well as positive and negative considerations, influencing each participant's decision not to pursue accommodations. [This summary attempted to emphasize details relevant to undergraduate participants.] Seventeen (17) of the 45 respondents reported seeking accommodations—apparently, the researchers presented these findings in a different writing [Squires & Countermine, 2018]. Of the 45 respondents, 28 postsecondary students with disabilities chose not to disclose disabilities and not to seek accommodations. They reported their reasons for this decision, which were predominantly internal factors. These were associated with points along the identity development process: (a) independence was signified by choosing not to get academic support at the postsecondary level, and succeeding anyway; (b) challenging themselves meant building skills and successes without accommodations, in an effort to overcome the difficulties related to their disabilities; (c) self-acceptance of their disabilities was expressed by not accessing special assistance; and (d) avoidance of the stigma that could occur if they self-disclosed disabilities. The limits to these ideas was discussed.