Student Voices: Recommendations for Improving Postsecondary Experiences of Students with Disabilities

Peer-reviewed article
Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 30 309-326


Fleming, Allison R., Kathleen Marie Oertle, and Anthony J. Plotner.


Students with disabilities represent a growing population on college campuses for whom specific needs and preferences are associated. Student supports have increased in response to these changing student needs and demographics. Yet, campus-wide responsiveness to inclusion and actions that promote self-advocacy are needed to increase the rates of persistence and graduation among this underrepresented student group. For the present study, we asked students registered with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at three large, public universities to suggest how colleges and universities could better support students with disabilities. Comments from 132 students were downloaded verbatim and analyzed via a content analysis approach by a three-member research team. Students expressed both satisfaction and dissatisfaction with several aspects of their university experiences, including disability and other campus services, faculty and advisors, and their perceptions of inclusion. Recommendations ranged widely, with comments on campus resources, academics, and the more general campus climate and levels of accessibility. These students provide concrete suggestions for colleges and universities who are interested in improving the experiences of students with disabilities and supporting their persistence to completion.