Overview of Students with Disabilities and Postsecondary Education


After this presentation, faculty and administrators will be able to:

  • summarize rights, responsibilities, potential contributions, and needs of students with disabilities
  • describe campus departmental rights and responsibilities for ensuring equal educational opportunities
  • list strategies for working with students who have disabilities, emphasizing the faculty-student relationship
  • describe campus resources available to assist in the provision of appropriate academic accommodations for students with disabilities


Approximately 20-30 minutes.


Department chair, faculty, staff, TA, student, or other department member. Little experience working with students with disabilities is required to deliver this short presentation.


  • Select the presenter(s).
  • Develop presentation outline and activities using the "Sample Script" provided in this section and the ideas listed in the Presentation Tips section.
  • Create presentation slides from templates provided in the Presentation Tools section.
  • Add the contact information for campus resources to the "Resources" slide and to printed publications as appropriate.
  • Photocopy handout template Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities. Create alternative formats as necessary.
  • Photocopy the presentation evaluation instrument to distribute at the end of the session or create your own.
  • Add a link on your department's website to The Faculty Room at www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty.

Equipment and Tools

  • DVD player and monitor
  • Video projector, computer, and presentation slides; Internet connection (optional)
  • Video (open captioned and audio described version of Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities)
  • Handout (Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities)
  • Presentation evaluation instrument

Presentation Outline

  1. Distribute handouts.
  2. Introductions.
  3. Begin presentation.
  4. Introduce and play video as noted in the script.
  5. Hold a discussion on possible accommodations on your campus.
  6. Discuss department or campus issues.
  7. Note campus resources.
  8. Distribute and collect completed evaluation instruments.


For further preparation resources for this presentation, consult

  • The Faculty Room at www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty
  • Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice published by Harvard Education Press, 2008.

Sample Script

Today I will provide a short presentation about how you can work effectively with students who have disabilities and how to access campus resources for assistance.

Advancements in technology and increased job specialization have resulted in career opportunities in fields that were once considered unsuitable for individuals with disabilities. Many of these careers require knowledge and skills obtained through postsecondary education. Although the number of individuals with disabilities seeking postsecondary education has increased significantly in recent years, they are still underrepresented in many academic and career areas. Federal legislation mandates that, when needed, academic accommodations be made to ensure that otherwise qualified students with disabilities have educational opportunities equal to those of their non-disabled peers.

Studies show that faculty members, staff, and students who have had interactions with students with disabilities generally have more positive attitudes about working with these students. Further, those who are familiar with accommodation strategies are better prepared to make arrangements, which will ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in their programs.


Today we are going to view a video that will introduce you to several faculty members and successful students with disabilities who have worked well together. In this video, faculty members share their concern about, and strategies for, working with students who have disabilities. In addition, successful students with disabilities tell us first-hand about techniques and accommodations that have contributed to their success. The video emphasizes the importance of the faculty-student relationship.

The handout, Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities, provides an overview of faculty, staff, and student legal rights and responsibilities, examples of accommodation strategies, and a list of resources available on campus to assist us in our efforts to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students in our programs and courses.

The people featured in this video have described some of the problems and solutions that surfaced in their academic experiences. We all encounter these and other issues in our programs and departments. Accommodation strategies may be simple, yet, they may also require a bit of creativity and flexibility.


Here are some resources that might be useful to you as you work to maximize participation and success of all students in your classes. [Elaborate.]

For comprehensive information on working with students with disabilities in postsecondary education, including accommodations, a wide range of case studies, frequently asked questions, and general resources, visit The Faculty Room at www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty. This resource was developed by DO-IT at the University of Washington as part of a nationwide project to provide resources to faculty and administrators so that they can make their courses and programs accessible to all students. You can link to this resource from ____. [Arrange to provide a link from your campus' disabled student services website before the presentation.] Consider linking to this website from your department's faculty website.

Thank you for your time today and for your interest in finding ways to ensure that all of the students in our programs have equal opportunities to learn, explore interests, and express ideas.