Date of Conferral







Sandra Mahoney


The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions that differ among university personnel and students with disabilities regarding the vagueness in the legal definition of the term reasonable accommodations. The theoretical framework that guided this study was the social model of disability. Using a sequential mixed-method design, the first strand surveyed 98 students and 93 personnel; then 10% of each group participated in an interview or focus group. The main research questions explored the different accommodations offered by university personnel versus those that were used by students and the different perceptions of the term reasonable accommodations in accordance with ADA law. A chi-square test was used to analyze yes/no survey data and a t test was used for the Likert scale question. In the first strand there were statistically significant findings in distribution and perception of 35 specific accommodations, including advocacy and counseling. Both focus group and interview data were analyzed and themes emerged, such as specific accommodations. An important finding from the qualitative strand was that more than half the students thought they were not receiving reasonable accommodations while the majority of university personnel thought they provided reasonable accommodations. The key result was the lack of a clear consensus between students with disabilities and university personnel in definitions of reasonable accommodations. Disseminating the results of this research study can create positive social change in the legislative and academic arenas by creating a better understanding of the impact of the current standard of reasonable accommodations. One recommendation is the creation of federal and state level commissions to administer, manage, and maintain policies for colleges.