Encountering Ableism in the Moment

How University Students Discuss Accommodations with Faculty Members


  • Justin E Freedman
  • Benjamin H Dotger
  • Yosung Song




ableism, accommodations, higher education, simulation, disability studies


At colleges and universities in the United States, disability is typically addressed as a medicalized identity. Students must self-identify as having a disability to their postsecondary school in order to receive access to accommodations. They are also expected to communicate with faculty members about using accommodations in individual courses. Students report experiencing stigma and discrimination due to being required to disclose a disability status and negotiate with faculty members to use accommodations. This paper uses theoretical frameworks within the field of Disability Studies to investigate how university students engage in conversations with faculty members about accommodations. Students provide insight into the barriers to meaningful access to education that they encounter, and how they manage stigmatized social identities within the power dynamic of a student-faculty member relationship.