Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Hedrick, B.N., Stumbo, N.J., Martin, J.K., Nordstrom, D.L., Martin, L.G., & Morrill, J.L. (2012). Personal assistant support for students with severe physical disabilities in post-secondary education: Results of a national survey. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 25 (2), 161-177.
Title:  Personal assistant support for students with severe physical disabilities in post-secondary education: Results of a national survey
Authors:  Hedrick, B.N., Stumbo, N.J., Martin, J.K., Nordstrom, D.L., Martin, L.G., & Morrill, J.L.
Year:  2012
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability
Publisher:  Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHED)
Full text:  http://proxy.library.vcu.edu/login?url=http://files.eric.ed.gov/ful...    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Survey research

Structured abstract:

Background:  With the advent of better medical care and pervasive assistive technologies (AT), the number of persons with severe physical disabilities is increasing and may continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The extent to which these trends may be seen in postsecondary settings is not known, simply because there is extremely limited published data about PAS available to persons with severe physical disabilities provided by disability support offices (DSS) in higher education.
Purpose:  The purpose of this exploratory research is to document the level of personal assistance support provided to students with severe physical disabilities by disability support services in higher education institutions across the United States. Study focused on the degree to which PAS were provided by disability service personnel to students with severe physical disabilities in higher education institutions and differences between those who do provide such services and those who do not.
Data collection and analysis:  A national survey was conducted of members of the Association of Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) via an online survey. Research team developed the project-specific, web-based survey used for this preliminary study. The survey consisted of three areas of interest: (a) staff description, (b) university description/student enrollments, and (c) PAS offered. WebSurvey@UW software automatically creates a database of respondents’ answers that can be exported to data analysis software programs. Soon after the survey URL was closed, quantitative data were exported to SPSS 18.0. Data analysis, including descriptive statistics, correlations, and mean comparisons, were employed depending on the variables and research question. Content analysis was used to code open-ended, qualitative data. Additionally, a statistician was hired specifically to aid with exploratory data analysis, including model building and graphical display of results.
Findings:  Of the 326 respondents with usable responses, 36 (14.1%) stated they provided some level of personal assistance services to students with severe physical disabilities, ranging from providing emergency services (25 or 69.4%) to providing residential services with in-house personal assistants (4 or 11.1%). Personal assistance support to students with severe physical disabilities were more likely to be provided at master’s, comprehensive, and research universities and less likely to be provided at bachelor’s, associate’s, and trade/technical schools. Those who provided personal assistant support were more likely to be able to identify students with severe physical disabilities who were negatively impacted by the lack of personal assistance support, were more satisfied with their personal assistance support services, had longer tenure in disability support services, and had greater numbers of part-time staff.
Conclusions:  The results of this study point to the need for additional investigations. First, it would be valuable to obtain students’ perceptions of PAS in postsecondary education. It would also be beneficial to explore more fully the barriers to offering more comprehensive PAS from the institutional perspective. Third, it would also be interesting to further delve into the histories of DSS coordinators who are employed by institutions that provide PAS.

Disabilities served:  Arthritis
Blindness
Cerebral palsy
Dual sensory impairment
Mobility impairment
Multiple sclerosis
Muscular dystrophy
Spinal cord injury (SCI)
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Visual impairment
Severe physical disability
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Interventions:  Personal assistance services (PAS)