Mamboleo, G., Dong, S., Anderson, S., & Molder, A. (2020). Accommodation experience: Challenges and facilitators of requesting and implementing accommodations among college students with disabilities . Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation , 53 (1), 43–54.

Journal Article

Mamboleo, G., Dong, S., Anderson, S., & Molder, A. (2020). Accommodation experience: Challenges and facilitators of requesting and implementing accommodations among college students with disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 53(1), 43–54.


Attention problem; Autism; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Extended time; Hearing impairment (including deafness); Learning disabilities; Physical disability; Postsecondary; Specialized setting; Speech/Language disability; Student survey; Traumatic brain injury (TBI); U.S. context; Visual impairment (including blindness)




The experiences of postsecondary students seeking and using accommodations, including factors facilitating and challenging the process, were explored. Accommodations were defined broadly, including those offered to support instruction or provided during course examinations. Specific accommodations were sometimes mentioned in respondents' comments, and are noted in Findings. [This study is related to Mamboleo, Dong, & Fais (2020).]


Postsecondary students (n=289) with various disabilities from six public higher education institutions (colleges and universities) in a Mid-Atlantic state (U.S.) were recruited; a subset of 226 students provided survey responses to the open-ended items that were analyzed in this document. Disabilities included attention-related disabilities (ADD/ADHD), autism, emotional-psychological impairments, hearing impairments including deafness, learning disabilities, medical concerns, mobility impairments, traumatic brain injuries, speech- or communication-related disabilities, and visual impairments including blindness; respondent data were not analyzed by specific disabilities, but were grouped into apparent/visible disabilities and non-apparent or "invisible" disabilities. Demographic characteristics including gender and age were reported. Most respondents were undergraduates—in their first, second, third, or fourth year; 11% were in graduate-level programs.

Dependent Variable

Student surveys had several items and components; the focus of the current document addressed a subset of open-ended items focused on challenges and facilitative factors for seeking and using accommodations in the postsecondary setting. Survey items sought information about how respondents' accommodations requests were addressed, or if respondents did not request accommodations, what discouraged or prevented them from doing so. [This document reports the qualitative, thematic data analysis of the study, with a subset of the same respondents, as Mamboleo, Dong, & Fais (2020).]


The three most requested accommodations among participants included two provided during course exams—extended time and separate supervised setting—and notetakers during instruction. Factors that facilitated accommodation requests by students, reported by six respondents, included care and initiative of instructor and disability services support, along with students' own initiative. Factors challenging students requesting accommodations, reported by 45 respondents, included: (a) desire to avoid stigma or judgment from classmates or faculty, (b) students' personal anxiety or insecurity, (c) lack of understanding by faculty or classmates regarding non-apparent or invisible disabilities, and (d) student lack of knowledge regarding available accommodations. Factors that facilitated accommodation use, reported by 111 respondents, included helpful and understanding faculty, and support from disability services' resources, along with students' own initiative. Challenges to using accommodations, reported by 56 respondents, included: (a) refusal or lack of understanding by faculty, (b) incorrect provision of accommodations by faculty, and (c) disability services offices failing to advocate for a specific accommodation or for student in situation.