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The History of Disability Services in Higher Education Summary The article’s main points are to highlight the major developments of disability services in higher education and to highlight some trends that may influence this area in the future. The history of disability services encompasses many historic moments that date back to 1864 and President Lincoln. However this review will highlight only a few of those contributions to disability services. College campuses are faced with new issues related to providing services for an increasingly diverse student body, including ensuring access to evolving technologies, to quality instruction, and to appropriate support services (Madaus, 2011). For example, Section 504 had a significant impact on access to postsecondary education for students with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against an otherwise qualified individual with a disability, solely on the basis of the disability, in any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance (Higher Education Compliance Alliance, 2013). The passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act also allowed access to students in higher education and in education in general. For many years many believed that a disability only referred to those persons having physical disabilities. As time went on the term learning disability (LD) was used more often and eventually became apart of the educational system. One of the key developments in the area of disability services was providing services on campus that allow students with disabilities to be able to function at the same capacity as another student without a disability. The concept of universal design (UD), originally rooted in architecture, began to emerge in college instruction at the turn of the century as a means to reach the needs of a broad range of learners, including those with disabilities (Madaus, 2011). The Americans with



Disabilities Act, Section 504 and the concept of universal design have paved the way for diversity and fairness is higher education.

Critical Reaction

I agree with the position that the author has taken in this article. The author went into great detail regarding the history of disabilities in higher education. The author also used and cited many resources that helped to paint the picture of the importance of disabilities in higher education. I do feel that the article was a bit overwhelming at some points but overall very informative. I am in agreement with the author that disability service professionals can provide valuable information for administrators in higher education. If all faculty and staff members work together we can help to provide a fair and accessible education for all.


What I have learned in this article will help me to make higher education accessible for all students. I know what things to look for on campus that may inhibit the learning for a student with a disability. I also learned there are many forms of a disability and that educational institutions must meet the needs of each student with and without a disability.



Bibliography Higher Education Compliance Alliance. (2013). Resources by topic: Americans with Disabilities Act & Section 504. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from Higher Education Compliance Web site: Madaus, J. W. (2011). The history of disability services in higher education. New Directions for Higher Education , 2011(154), 5-15.