Fullarton, S., & Duquette, C. (2016). Experiences of students with learning disabilities in Ontario universities: A case study . International Journal of Special Education , 31 (1), 55–67. https://www.internationalsped.com/ijse/index

Journal Article
Fullarton, S., & Duquette, C. (2016). Experiences of students with learning disabilities in Ontario universities: A case study. International Journal of Special Education, 31(1), 55–67. https://www.internationalsped.com/ijse/index


Also located on ERIC webpage https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1099971


Accommodation/s not specified; International (non-U.S.); Learning disabilities; Postsecondary





Accommodations were not identified in advance of this qualitative study; specific accommodations were reported as findings. The interactions between and among individual and institutional barriers to, and facilitators of, postsecondary education for students with learning disabilities were investigated.


Four postsecondary students with learning disabilities from one of three postsecondary institutions—two universities and one college—in Ontario, Canada participated. Genders (3 women and 1 man) and ages (21–23) were reported. Student profiles, including disability details, were presented; difficulties included dyslexia, short-term and working memory impairments, processing delays, and reading comprehension challenges. One participant had recently completed two bachelor's degrees and the other three participants were in the latter halves of their degree programs.

Dependent Variable

A series of three in-depth interviews were conducted with each participant: (a) disability details and past educational experiences at the elementary and secondary levels; (b) facilitators and barriers to postsecondary education; and (c) reflections on their experiences overall. The questions addressed student participants' use of accommodations and whether they have been helpful, the personal characteristics that have supported their educational persistence, and what they have learned from study participation.


Accommodations for course exams were emphasized in this summary; extended time, quiet testing location, and limiting to one exam per day were reported to be used by these postsecondary student participants with learning disabilities. Other academic accommodations were mentioned, including access to a computer with text-to-speech software, notetakers, and copies of lecture notes. Participants reported that they accessed available accommodations and supports to benefit their postsecondary performance and achievement levels. Participants did not identify any institutional barriers—such as faculty attitudes or mismatch of student needs and academic accommodations—that were influential in their educational success. They indicated that they had informal social facilitators, including family and peer support, yet these examples were not reported as significant factors. In addition to institutional supports (accommodations), participants identified personal capabilities as individual facilitators of success, including self-awareness of preferred learning strategies, self-determination and advocacy skills, perseverance, self-discipline, and goal orientation. The researchers commented that the disability services offices designed exam administration as a service provided outside of the student-faculty member interaction, which could account for the lack of impact of possible faculty attitudinal barriers reported by participants.