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ADA Accommodations Training Project: 
Integrating Students with Disabilities into 
Higher Education Settings

Note: A free version of the online course is available to all. A young woman with limb loss writes by holding a pencil in her mouth and steadying it with her arm.

People with disabilities are more likely to be employed if they complete post-secondary education. To improve their success rate in college, however, most students need to learn self-advocacy skills that will also serve them well in employment and other post-school settings.

This project was designed to improve students’ self-advocacy skills and knowledge about their legal rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). College students who have disabilities don’t always know what they are entitled to under this law, nor how to request accommodations from their teachers or institutions.

The Accommodations Training Project was co-directed by Dr. Glen W. White and Dr. Jean Ann Summers. They developed a training module to educate higher education students with disabilities about their rights under the law and to help them develop the negotiation skills needed to request accommodations. This study was conducted at the University of Kansas (KU), Kansas State University (KSU), Haskell Indian Nations University and Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC). A second iteration worked with students at junior colleges in Kansas. A second version of the study was conducted at junior colleges.

The Training
The training module consists of two parts: an online tutorial and a face-to-face workshop. The student first completes the online tutorial, which teaches rights conferred under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The tutorial also explains the different types of accommodations available and asks students to assess their strengths and challenges as they relate to their educational experience.

Learning to Negotiate
Once the online tutorial is completed, each student attends a face-to-face workshop where the fundamental steps to successful negotiation are presented. The seven-step framework includes:

  • Opening the Meeting
  • Making the Accommodation Request
  • Asking for Suggestions
  • Asking for Referrals
  • Planning Future Actions
  • Summarizing the Meeting
  • Closing the Meeting

Students then have the opportunity to practice these seven steps to requesting an accommodation through role plays. Several KU students helped develop online tutorials by modeling these steps in videos. (Read the story.)

The development of this training module has occurred through testing the materials and getting feedback from students with disabilities at Kansas State University and the University of Kansas.

This Field Initiated Project was funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), grant number H133G090222.

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