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ERIC Number: EJ1107472
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
A Qualitative Investigation of the Motivation of College Students with Nonvisible Disabilities to Utilize Disability Services
O'Shea, Amber; Meyer, Rachel H.
Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, v29 n1 p5-23 Spr 2016
Students with disabilities experience unique challenges in college. Whereas universities offer support services to students with disabilities, students typically must disclose their disability in order to utilize such services. One important distinction regarding the disclosure of disabilities concerns the visibility of the disability, as students with nonvisible disabilities may have more choice concerning disclosure. Even students who disclose their disability, however, often either do not utilize the available support services or utilize them ineffectively. This study explored the motivation of college students with disabilities to disclose their disability and utilize university support resources. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to explore the way students with nonvisible disabilities made meaning of being a college student with a disability and how these meanings related to their choice to use support services. Self-Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000a) was used as the theoretical framework to guide this study. The analysis identified six themes within which students' experiences were analyzed as more or less supportive of their psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. An important conclusion of the analysis was that students' motivation and decision to utilize support services was framed by the level of acceptance of their disability; that is, their integration of their disability to their authentic self. Different levels of integration of the disability in students' narratives suggested different levels of support for the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, particularly by significant adults at home and in high school.
Association on Higher Education and Disability. 107 Commerce Center Drive Suite 204, Huntersville, NC 28078. Tel: 704-947-7779; Fax: 704-948-7779; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A