VOICES OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: A PHOTOVOICE STUDY
NEELAM AGARWAL, ED.D., MSW, MRC, CRC- ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER OF ACCOMMODATIONS AND SUPPORT SERVICES, THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO
JESSICA SPOHN, MSW, MPH, CHES- GRADUATE STUDENT, THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO
Students with disabilities are often the forgotten minority in higher education. The Center for Accommodations and Support Services (CASS) office at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) initiated a Photovoice project with two main objectives: provide students with visible and invisible disabilities a space to foster validity for and bring a personal perspective regarding their lived experiences; and provide valuable insight and dialogue about these students’ issues, concerns, and successes to UTEP faculty, staff, and community partners who engage with this population. These objectives led to the ultimate goal of—directly and indirectly—improving educational outcomes for current and future students with disabilities. Student experiences are discussed in this paper through qualitative data analysis. Student affairs professionals are critical factors in this process and must be educated in order to eliminate attitudinal and physical barriers of campus environments which prevent students with disabilities from achieving successful academic careers.