Access to Success: Center Researchers Win Grant To Help College Students with Disabilities

Note: A free version of the online course is available at Access to Success of the online course is available to all.

Oct. 1, 2014 - KU's Research and Training Center on Independent Living (RTC/IL) received a three-year $600,000 grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to help community college students with disabilities request the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations they need to succeed in their post-secondary experiences.

Glen W. White, PhD, director of the RTC/IL, and Jean Ann Summers, PhD, research director, will lead the Access to Success project, which focuses on students with sensory, physical and learning disabilities who are first-time enrollees at four community colleges in Kansas.

“There is a strong need to increase success for students with disabilities in post-secondary education,” said Summers.

Research indicates that for people with disabilities, completing post-secondary education increases the likelihood that they will be employed.

However, while 31 percent of students with disabilities enroll in some post-secondary education (two years or less), only 12.5 percent complete a degree.

Access to Success will involve one urban institution, Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, and three community colleges in the Southeast region of the state, including Allen County, Neosho County, and Ft. Scott, Kansas.

Building on Past Research

The new study will build on the recently completed Accommodations Training Technology (ATT) project that White and Summers conducted at three universities, including the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Haskell Indian Nations University.

Pilot testing of the ATT, which included an online course, showed that its components can be used to teach students with disabilities self-advocacy skills to request ADA accommodations, such as extended test times and the use of note-takers.

“Community colleges can provide an ideal partnership for this research because they have higher rates of students with disabilities and limited resources available to support those students,” explained White. “We intend to investigate whether acquisition of these skills results in more successful long-term outcomes, including higher academic scores and completion of coursework.”