College Students with Physical Disabilities: Common On Campus, Uncommon in the Literature

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Nicholas W Gelbar
Joseph W. Madaus
Allison Lombardi
Michael Faggella-Luby
Lyman Dukes


Programs for college students with physical disabilities began in the immediate post-war period, as veterans with disabilities were the “vanguard” disability group in higher education. However, while veterans with physical disabilities were the beginning of the postsecondary disability field, the discipline currently focuses on students with many and varied disability types in both its research and practice.  This article presents a secondary analysis, which was part of a larger systematic review of the postsecondary disability literature. The present article focuses on studies including at least one participant with a physical disability.  In total eighty studies had at least one student with a physical disability.  Two of these studies were experimental and only one of these two met the criteria to be a randomized control trial. A minority of studies was composed solely of college students with physical disabilities.


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How to Cite
Gelbar, N. W., Madaus, J. W., Lombardi, A., Faggella-Luby, M., & Dukes, L. (2015). College Students with Physical Disabilities: Common On Campus, Uncommon in the Literature. Research, Advocacy, and Practice for Complex and Chronic Conditions, 34(2), 14–31.
Advocacy and Policy
Author Biographies

Nicholas W Gelbar, University of Connecticut Health Center

Assistant Professor of Community Medicine

Research Director at the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Joseph W. Madaus, University of Connecticut

Professor of Educational Psychology

Allison Lombardi, University of Connecticut

Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology

Michael Faggella-Luby, Texas Christian University

Associate Professor of Special Education

Lyman Dukes, University of South Florida

Professor of Special Education