Improving Technology Training Services in Postsecondary Education: Perspectives of Recent College Graduates with Disabilities
Richard T. Roessler and H. Michael Kirk University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Recent college graduates with disabilities (N = 40) completed a telephone interview regarding the type and quality of technology services they received in college. Although they were satisfied with the auxiliary classroom aids and technology information they had received, 37% reported the need for additional classroom accommodations. The majority of the participants rated their academic advisors' knowledge of technology as being inadequate to meet their needs. The participants noted that they had not (a) completed an evaluation of their technology needs while in school, (b) received training on how to use technology in the workplace, and (c) developed reasonable accommodation strategies as part of their placement planning. Nevertheless, they expressed confidence in their abilities to accommodate disability related limitations on the job. The results of the survey were used to develop recommendations for program development.
Enrollment data from college and university campuses reflect some dramatic shifts in the student population. Specifically, there has been a significant increase in the number of students with disabilities who are pursuing postsecondary degrees. In 1976, less than 3% of entering students reported disabilities. By 1994, the percentage of students with disabilities enrolled in colleges and universities had grown to 9% (Henderson, 1995). These students present a diverse array of disabilities, physical disabilities, and sensory impairments (Thompson & Bethea, 1996).
Disability-related impairments present unique challenges to students' progress in their academic programs. Fortunately, students are not without protections and resources in dealing with barriers to physical and program access. Legislation, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ensures students' rights to request and receive accommodations (Lynch & Gussel, 1996). Section 504 has given rise to the establishment of disability support service programs across the United States. Such programs provide significant resources for students. The purpose of these programs is to help colleges and universities make "appropriate academic adjustments and reasonable modifications to policies and practices to allow