Akin, D., & Huang, L. M. (2019). Perceptions of college students with disabilities . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 32 (1), 21–33. https://www.ahead.org/professional-resources/publications/jped

Journal Article
Akin, D., & Huang, L. M. (2019). Perceptions of college students with disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 32(1), 21–33. https://www.ahead.org/professional-resources/publications/jped


[no doi reported]; also located on ERIC online database: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1217453


Extended time; No disability; Postsecondary; Student survey; U.S. context





The attitudes of peers without disabilities toward students with disabilities were investigated, including their “deservingness” to receive accommodations and other support services. Test accommodations included extended time on exams and permission to reschedule exams.


Postsecondary students without disabilities (n=116) at the University of California, Davis, responded to student surveys. Demographic information including sex (male/female) and age were reported.

Dependent Variable

Student surveys incorporated several components, pertaining to how postsecondary students without disabilities perceived students with disabilities: (a) sociability, (b) academic ability, (c) expectations of academic performance, (d) expectations of classroom behavior, (e) beliefs on deservingness of being provided accommodations, (f) beliefs on students dealing with their disabilities, and (g) warmth felt toward students with disabilities. Participants (without disabilities) were assigned to answer surveys about students with one of three disability types or groupings: psychiatric, cognitive, or physical disabilities. Each grouping was defined and examples were specified for participants to read and reflect on to answer their surveys according to their perceptions of students with those disability types. Physical disabilities were characterized as apparent or visible to participants, and cognitive and psychiatric were characterized as "invisible" yet present. Details on the survey component about beliefs of students without disabilities on the degree to which students with disabilities deserve to have accommodations were emphasized in this summary. This survey section had seven items, related to perceived needs, purpose of academic accommodations, beliefs about fairness, and legitimacy of having disabilities (relevant especially for non-apparent or "invisible" disabilities). Survey items in the deservingness of accommodations section were declarative statements, each rated on a 7-point scale, with 1 indicating strong disagreement and 7 indicating strong agreement.


Participants without disabilities indicated that students with disabilities in the three groups—cognitive, physical, and psychiatric—were deserving of academic accommodations in general, with average ratings of over '5' and with no significant differences of mean ratings by disability type or group. When asked about specific accommodations, participant survey responses had some variation which was not statistically significant between visible (physical) disabilities and invisible (cognitive and psychiatric) disabilities. However, participants indicated that students with psychiatric disabilities as less deserving of specific accommodations than students with cognitive disabilities, at a statistically significant level. The matter of stereotype threat was discussed.