Lyman, M. J. (2013). Barriers to accommodation use for students with disabilities in postsecondary education (Publication No. 3595044) [Doctoral dissertation, Brigham Young University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Lyman, M. J. (2013). Barriers to accommodation use for students with disabilities in postsecondary education (Publication No. 3595044) [Doctoral dissertation, Brigham Young University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.


Brigham Young University (Provo, UT); ProQuest document ID: 1443853106; also available on BYU's webpage:


Attention problem; Autism; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Learning disabilities; Multiple accommodations; Physical disability; Postsecondary; U.S. context; Visual impairment (including blindness)




Various accommodations, at least one or more per participant, were identified and approved, but participants had not used the accommodations.


Sixteen postsecondary students with disabilities, registered with disability support services at a private religious university in Utah (U.S.), participated in interviews with the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of barriers to using accommodations. Participants reported having various types of disabilities—13 in all—including learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, neurological disabilities, visual impairment, Asperger Syndrome, emotional behavioral disabilities such as anxiety and depression, and physical conditions such as diabetes. Participants' genders and ages were also reported.

Dependent Variable

No dependent variable was used in this qualitative research design. A set of interview questions were asked of each participant.


The researcher discerned seven themes across the interview data from 16 postsecondary students with disabilities. Three of the themes were considered simple and had no subthemes, and four of the themes were considered complex, having several subthemes. The barriers to using accommodations that were uncovered that were considered straightforward included (a) negative experiences with professors; (b) fears of future ramifications, such as a worry that accommodations may limit the skills and benefits of having completed postsecondary education because the skills were not learned independent of these learning supports; and finally, (c) the eventuality that accommodations are not needed, at least not in every instance, in order for students to succeed in courses. The other four barriers to accommodations were complex and had many factors. (d) The desire for self-sufficiency was a source of pressure which resulted in students valuing independence to the exclusion of making use of accommodations to support their success. Students sought to be self-accommodating, and to think of accommodations as a backup to use only if their usual efforts were not enough for success. (e) Postsecondary students' desire to avoid negative social reactions was linked to students' reticence to be seen as different and treated in explicitly different ways, and especially to be judged as not deserving of, or taking advantage of, the special treatment that accommodations can appear to be. Another aspect of avoiding negative social reactions was students' desire not to place an undue burden on those who were helping them, which could result in students not using accommodations that they need. (f) Another barrier was insufficient knowledge about accommodations, such as students' concern that accommodations were not fair for them to receive and others not to receive, which the researcher linked to a limited understanding of students' own disabilities. Accommodations knowledge was influenced by the degree to which students were aware of Disability Support Services (DSS), and also associated with a sense that one was not disabled enough to receive accommodations. (g) The fourth complex theme was the quality and usefulness of DSS and accommodations. Underlying this theme was problematic experience with requesting and receiving accommodations, including instances in which specific accommodations were not available, and when accommodations do not prove to be helpful or effective. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.