Examining the Digital Disability Divide in Higher Education



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The number of students with disabilities pursuing higher education is increasing (Madaus, Kowitt, & Lalor, 2012; Sachs & Schreuer, 2011). However, the research related to this population is sparse (Peña, 2014), particularly regarding technology (L. Newman, Browne-Yung, Raghavendra, Wood & Grace, 2017). The current study examines the technology attitudes, technology usage, and learning environment preferences of students with disabilities, as well as their perception of institutional support for accessible technology. This study was a secondary analysis using data from the 2016 Educause Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Student and Technology survey. A point biserial correlation analysis was conducted to establish the relationships between technology attitude, usage, and learning environment preference. A discriminant analysis was used to compare students with and without disabilities on these variables. Finally, a hierarchical regression was used to examine which student characteristics contribute to the ratings of institutional support for accessible technology by students with disabilities. Results of the study showed that students with disabilities differ from students without disabilities in terms of learning environment preferences, the use of technology as a distraction, and attitude toward technology. The hierarchical regression indicated that gender, ethnicity, declared major, technology attitude, social and academic technology use, and learning environment preference contribute to predicting students’ ratings of institutional technology support.