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Faculty Attitudes and Practices Regarding Students with Disabilities: Two Decades After Implementati... - page 20 / 67





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administrators and faculty are more proactive regarding accommodation of students with disabilities. But, even in a cooperative environment, students need self-advocacy skills to initiate accommodation requests.

Referring to self-advocacy as a life skill, Carroll and Johnson Bown (1996) proposed that training in self-advocacy skills enables students to become more autonomous adults. They also stressed that enhanced self-advocacy skills provide an excellent "antidote" to the social isolation and immaturity that may cause a significant number of students with disabilities to drop out of school. Furthermore, self-advocacy training during the college years may help students become more successful in the transition from postsecondary education to employment. In that regard, Satcher (1995) described the long-term career benefits of being able to accommodate one's needs during the college years. He noted that college graduates with learning disabilities who had the best career outcomes were those individuals who were aware of their strengths and limitations, could describe how those characteristics affect their performance, and could request from their employers services and accommodations that enhance their productivity on the job.

Recent survey data (Norton, 1997) indicate that many postsecondary students lack confidence in their abilities to request classroom accommodations from an instructor. In the same survey, instructors noted that students were "shy about asking" or "reluctant" (p. 65). As a result, Norton concluded that student personnel professionals should "teach students ways to approach professors so that students feel more comfortable discussing and requesting accommodations"(p. 67). In this approach, students should explain why they qualify for an accommodation and how it will enhance their classroom performance.

The self-advocacy training developed for this study follows Norton's recommendations regarding ways to help students explain the appropriateness and need for an accommodation. Self-advocacy skill clusters in the intervention such as "introduction" and "disclosure" help the student provide a rationale for an accommodation. Other skill clusters such as "solution," "resources," "agreement,"'summary," and "closure" pertain both to the need for accommodations and to the specific type of accommodation that best addresses the student's limitations. Each skill cluster is broken down into a series of component behaviors. For example, the "solution" component consists of the following target behaviors: describe previous classroom accommodations used, explain how they improve performance in the classroom, and request accommodations for the specific situation in a statement form ("I would like to use a tape recorder and a notetaker in your class").

As documented in the research, development of self-advocacy skills is a high priority service for college students with disabilities. In response to that priority, this study evaluated the effectiveness of a social skill training program to prepare college students with disabilities to advocate for their accommodation needs. The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether the instructional program, "Self-advocacy Training" (Rumrill, Roessler, & Brown, 1994), resulted in acquisition, maintenance, and generalization of accommodation request behaviors. The focus of the study was to investigate whether students used more of the advocacy skills after training than before and whether higher levels of skill usage occurred across different (a) types of

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