The Experience of (In)Accessibility at University: What Disabled Graduate Students Reveal
Although the number of disabled students entering graduate school has increased in recent years, research pertaining to graduate students with disabilities remains underdeveloped. The purpose of this generic qualitative study is to better understand the experiences of (in)accessibility from the perspectives of three graduate students who self-identify as disabled or as having a disability(s) at one mid-sized university in Southern Ontario. The theoretical orientation was shaped by a social model of disability. The study was focused around the following major research question: What have been the experiences of (in)accessibility for three graduate students who self-identify as disabled or as having a disability(s) at one mid-sized university in Southern Ontario? Subquestions were organized around subcategories, such as (a) experiences related to accessibility, (b) experiences related to inaccessibility, and (c) insights related to future recommendations to enhance accessibility. The study found that (in)accessibility at university was related to (a) specific places on campus, (b) specific people on campus, and (c) the culture of awareness. A variety of educational initiatives were recommended to foster accessible practices and to develop a more accepting and disability-friendly culture on campus. Based on these findings, the Trickledown Effect Model was proposed as a means for promoting accessibility at university.