Impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: perceptions of selected individuals at two major urban universities
The purpose of this study was to determine how physically disabled students perceive the nature and extent of changes made at the University of Maryland and George Washington University campuses to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. A study of this nature, focusing on students with physical disabilities, is a new one. Therefore, the purpose of this study is important as a pilot study for future research;Telephone interviews were conducted individually with five disabled students form the University of Maryland and with seven disabled students from George Washington University. Because of each student's disability and class schedule as well as resources and time available, it was not possible to interview the students in person. The researcher took these factors into consideration when requesting their participation in the study. The Directors of Disabled Students Services from both campuses were also interviewed;The study elicited answers to the following research questions: (1) What changes have physically disabled students seen on their campus since the ADA became law? (2) What changes have the Directors of Disabled Students seen on their campus since the ADA became law? (3) How are these changes perceived by both disabled students and the Director of Disabled Students on each campus? (4) Are these differences in the changes identified by both disabled students and the Director of Disabled Students on each campus? (5) What additional changes are identified by disabled students on each campus as being needed to make their campus more accessible? (6) What additional changes are identified by the Director of Disabled Students on each campus as being needed to make their campus more accessible?;The results of the study showed that changes had been made on both campuses to improve the quality of life for disabled students. The disabled students and the Directors of Disabled Students from both campuses indicated that several changes have been made to improve accessibility, including automated doors and ramps to buildings; movement of some classes to an accessible building; addition of curb cuts to sidewalks, interior changes in residence facilities, and improvement of services provided to disabled students;While both the disabled students and the directors indicated changes have been made, both groups said that additional changes were still needed to improve accessibility. They recommended the following changes: (a) hire additional staff campus-wide; (b) provide training throughout the university community to learn how to assist disabled students; (c) provide seminars and workshops on the issues and concerns of disabled students to eliminate attitudinal barriers; and (d) continue to make more buildings accessible;Thus, this study may draw attention to a need for changes on campuses to comply with the ADA. It will also serve as a benchmark for future studies to assess removal of architectural and attitudinal barriers toward disabled students on college campuses.