Alanka BabbFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Ellen Ziegler


Americans with Disability Act, Disability Services Office, Higher Education Institution, Individualized Education Plan, Students with Disabilities


Education | Higher Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was aimed to describe the experiences of twelve students with disabilities at a higher education institution in Maryland. The theory that guided this study was Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio’s (1843) and John Rawls’s social justice theory. The social justice theory addresses the importance of equality, access, liberty, and the fair distribution of resources in society to promote social and economic development for all. A qualitative methodology was used to execute the study. Data was collected using focus groups, interviews, and letters. The data was analyzed using Moustaka’s (1994) modification of Van Kaam’s method of phenomenological analysis. This technique allowed me to gather a complete textual description utilizing horizontilizing, reduction, and ultimately ascertaining a composite structural description or the essence of participants’ experiences. The central question for this study was: what are the lived experiences of students with disabilities attending a four-year university? Three themes and several sub-themes were revealed during the data analysis process. These themes included socialization, the importance of accommodations, and university resources. Implications for findings suggest that university faculty members must be trained to support students with disabilities to ensure equitability. Future research recommends utilizing a more diverse sample and incorporating both students and faculty members to gather multiple perspectives while emphasizing students’ experiences.