Whereas the IDEA (which primarily applies to pre-higher education) requires the learning institution to make efforts of identifying a student with disability, ADA and Section 504 require the student to take the initiative. As such Eckes and Ochoa (2005) highlight that students in postsecondary institutions who do not have a clear understanding of the changes may feel neglected when the faculty does not move in to inquire of their disabilities.
It is noted that higher education institution which have adhered to the laws governing postsecondary education for persons with disabilities are stringent in ensuring that they remain in accordance with the laws. As such, student feel burdened to reveal their disabilities. In general, disabled persons are usually taken by people as having inabilities and there is tendency to label them (Sullivan, 2005). This is a great challenge for a disabled student in postsecondary setting where he or she is supposed to disclose their disability.
Johnson (2006) argues when postsecondary students are faced with the need to disclose their disability status especially for hidden disabilities, they always consider the implications. Whereas it may be easy to deal with the implication of a physical disability that is visible to everyone, disclosing a hidden disability such as a psychological condition or even ones HIV/AIDS status carries greater implications to the disabled persons. The individual is usually challenged by the fact that such disclosures often result into stereotyping if not ostracism.
It should be realized that were it not for the anti-discriminations legislations, disabled persons would most likely face discrimination of many forms in the society. It is therefore expected that labeling and discrimination are likely to occur once a student discloses their disability (Murphy, 2007). The disclosure of sensitive issues therefore remains a challenge to disabled students due to fear of the consequences. The weight of ADA and Section 504 mandating the student to disclose the disability is further felt in that the disabled student may not understand the disclosure procedure.
Not only is the way to disclose the disability a challenge (more so for hidden and sensitive disabilities) but disclosure timing and specific persons in to disclose to in the faculty. Harper and Quaye (2008) advises that for students to effectively disclose their disabilities, the specific faculty must be involved with only the appropriate officials (e. g. professors and administrators) having the disclosed information. Failure to assure and maintain this form of confidentiality tends to keep disabled students off from disclosing.
In some instances, if the right individuals to disclose to are not identified early, the student may take too long to disclose their disability thus ending up predisposing him or her to discrimination. Charles (2004) recognizes that past experiences as well as the environment in which an individual has grown largely determine their attitude. As such, the situation becomes worse if a disabled person is from an already discriminative background for instance as a culturally minor group. The state of the faculty concerning preparedness and ability to cater for students with disabilities can influence the attitudes of the student.
In particular, the student is most likely to have negative attitude towards a faculty if the faculty is not well positioned to cater for the disability. Hernon and Calvert (2006) for instance identifies that most college lecturers are not deeply versed on the needs of persons with disabilities as compared to university professors. This implies that a college lecturer may fail address the needs of the disabled adequately. With this knowledge, a disabled student may be negative towards college faculty lecturer which results to poor outcome.
The transition difficulty from secondary education to higher education has capacity to leave the student feeling abandoned by the faculty. Sullivan (2005) acknowledges that there is reduction in the degree of support that students with dyscalculia received once they join postsecondary institutions. This being a hidden disability, the problem is amplified. This makes the student feel discouraged and eventually withdraw from the class due to failure to keep up with others. This is a clear indicator of how the negative attitudes to disclosure of ones disability can affect their performance.
Attitudes of faculty towards students with disability Being a minority group especially in higher education, persons with disabilities represent a unique set of people with new requirements naturally and as per ADA and Section 504. Institutions of higher education therefore deal with a special class of people who have just been given equal rights with the mainstream society not more than two decades ago. As Rao (2004) states, the attitudes that one develops against disabled persons are determined to a large extent by the level of prior contact with such persons.
In addition to prior experiences, the attitudes that a person develops also borrows from the characteristics of the disabled individual, how the person who is disabled is as well as how the two interact. This indicates that the attitudes towards disabled persons tend to differ from person to person and so is the consequent behavior towards the disabled. Since faculties are run by people, the experiences and characteristics of those people greatly determine their attitude and behavior in general towards disabled students.
It is acknowledged that the attitudes that a faculty develops towards disabled students in higher education institutions are crucial in determining the success or failure of the student (Mann, 2006). Greater experiences with persons with disabilities enhances attitudes towards the disabled persons positively, a faculty whose staff and administrators have broad experience with disabled persons usually have positive attitudes and behavior towards the disabled (Murray, Wren & Keys, 2008).
A faculty that is rich with information regarding disabilities and persons with disabilities is likely to perform well in terms of attitudes towards the disabled. As such, a good relationship between the disabled person and the faculty leads to good mentorship and overall success of the student. Other factors that shape the attitudes of faculty towards students with disabilities in postsecondary institutions include the existence and practice of legislation addressing the needs of the disabled, faulty staff gender as well as the age of the faculty staff among other factors.