Accommodation access by Southern California Community College students with specific learning disabilities
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Despite the increase of students with disabilities (SWD) attending college, students who self-identify with specific learning disabilities (SLD) are not accessing the accommodations needed to assist them with their academic success (Travis, 2014). Postsecondary institutions need to identify the barriers hindering SWD access to accommodations that assist them in achieving their academic goals. The researcher used a qualitative methodology with a descriptive, phenomenological approach to explore the experiences of accessing accommodations for a convenience sample of students who self-identified with SLD and were attending Southern California community colleges. Results from data analysis of the transcriptions of semistructured interviews based on self-advocacy and self-determination theories provided insight into the importance of accessing accommodations for the participants. Using Vagle’s (2014) whole-part-whole coding method in analyzing the data, the researcher found nine categories that resulted in three practical themes—assigned advocates, meeting with instructors, and positive school experiences—that support recommendations for postsecondary staff and students with SLD to assist in accommodation access and help overcome barriers when accessing accommodations. Understanding the experiences of SWD in obtaining their accommodations on campuses is valuable for college and university staff and administrators, policymakers, and the students themselves. With the findings from this study, educators can improve, enhance, and change policies, procedures, and practices regarding the accessibility of accommodations that assist SWD in reaching their academic goals. Recommended future research includes exploring accommodation access to other disability groups and other types of postsecondary institutions. Student access to accommodations, accommodation deliveries, or additional barriers encountered on other campuses would provide valuable information for practitioners working with other disability groups at other postsecondary institutions and in fighting social injustice at postsecondary institutions.