In a single subject multiple baseline (with replication) design, 3 college students with disabilities completed training to help them advocate for classroom accommodations with their instructors. Presented in terms of 17 target behaviors in seven lessons, self-advocacy training covered the basic elements of an accommodation request (e.g., introducing oneself, disclosing disability, explaining the benefits of accommodations, describing how to implement accommodations, obtaining teacher agreement, reviewing the request, and closing by expressing appreciation). Instructional strategies included didactic teaching, modeling, role-playing, and feedback. Results indicated that the students acquired, maintained, and generalized the self-advocacy skills taught in the program
Lynch and Gussel (1996) stressed that self-advocacy is integral to the life-long success of college students with disabilities. Viewing self-advocacy training as a "critical element in services that assist students to make a smooth transition from high school to postsecondary education" (p. 354), Lynch and Gussel described both the content and style elements of self-advocacy. Content skills include such behavioral steps as disclosing disability related needs and limitations; suggesting alternative accommodative solutions (e.g., aids, procedural modifications, and technological devices), preferably under the student's control to implement; and describing how accommodations will enhance the student's academic capabilities. Positive outcomes in request situations are also linked to the manner in which the request is made (i.e., style dimensions of self-advocacy). Important style elements include (a) appropriate timing, such as before the class begins rather than the day before the first test, (b) orientation which focuses on explaining instead of demanding, (c) body language which is a characterized by open posture and pleasant facial expressions, and (d) reinforcement for the instructor's attention and assistance.
A multi-faceted and compelling rationale exists for teaching students with disabilities self-advocacy skills. For example, in the United States, college students with disabilities have a legal right to an accommodated educational experience to the extent that accommodations are needed and appropriate, but they must request such consideration. Protection of their civil rights in this matter is provided by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II (U.S. public colleges and universities) or III (U.S. private colleges and universities) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA; Pitman & Slate, 1994). If they are to enjoy the full protections of Section 504 and the ADA, students with disabilities must learn to act on their rights, rather than remain passive recipients of services (Carroll & Johnson Bown, 1996). Unless they become more assertive, many students will not receive the accommodations they need. For example, in discussing the needs of students with visual impairments, Senge and Dote-Kwan (1995) noted that postsecondary institutions are slow to provide alternative formats for information on admission and registration procedures, class schedules, location of campus buildings, career development and counseling services, and campus news. Heyward, Lawton, and Associates (1995) went so far as to say that "battles are being waged" on some campuses over accommodation issues. They called for a cooperative climate in which