Twenty Years Into the 21st Century – Tech-related Accommodations for College Students with Mental Health and Other Disabilities

Catherine Fichten, Alice Havel, Mary Jorgensen, Susie Wileman, Jillian Budd


Virtually all North American two- and four-year colleges provide accommodations to their increasing numbers of students with disabilities. To explore technology and non-technology related accommodations for these students we surveyed 118 Canadian two- and four-year college students who self-reported at least one disability, including a mental health related disability, and indicated that they had registered for access services from their college. Seventy-four students without disabilities were included in some analyses. Our findings reveal emerging issues such as non-binary gender and multiple comorbidities, in addition to more targeted recommendations concerning technology use. For example, over half of our sample self-reported multiple disabilities; there is a large number of students with mental health related disabilities (e.g., anxiety disorders, mood disorders), many of whom have comorbid disabilities; binary (male, female) gender designations are outdated; and exam and classroom accommodations without technologies are still the most popular. Grades of students with and without disabilities did not differ. Similarly, the number of different types of accommodations in two- and four-year colleges did not differ. Students generally had high technology related self-efficacy and they saw the substantial benefit of technologies, especially of writing tools. Students with mental health related disability used somewhat fewer technologies for reading, writing and time management. Self-efficacy and perceived benefit were highest for writing technologies. General use technologies such as Microsoft Office and Google Docs that were reported by most students in this study are increasingly used as adaptive aids. In future, use of technology related accommodations is likely to include showing students how to use general use software.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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