Getting ahead in the online university: Disclosure experiences of students with apparent and hidden disabilities

Abstract

Disabled students must communicate their condition to the university to access accommodations, but many do not disclose or do so late. We explored identity management and disclosure decisions in a sample of 34 students from a Spanish open university through email interviews. Results show that these students carefully assess disclosing their disability due to the emotional risks involved and that the administrative process poses an obstacle. Students with apparent disabilities (i.e., physical and sensory) emphasize self-sufficiency and normalization of their presence, while students with hidden disabilities (i.e., mental disorders and learning challenges) focus on avoiding stigma and increasing credibility. Online universities should acknowledge the distinct needs derived from the different types of disabilities, provide personalized support, and facilitate disclosure procedures.

Publication
International Journal of Educational Research, 114, 101991. Advance online publication

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Citation

Melián, E., & Meneses, J. (2022). Getting ahead in the online university: Disclosure experiences of students with apparent and hidden disabilities. International Journal of Educational Research, 114, 101991. Advance online publication. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883035522000696
Efrem Melián
Efrem Melián
Investigador doctoral

Investigador predoctoral del programa d’Educació i TIC de la UOC.

Julio Meneses
Julio Meneses
Professor agregat

Professor de metodologia de la investigació, director de Learning Analytics de l’eLearning Innovation Center i investigador de l’Internet Interdisciplinary Institute de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

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