2 What are participants perceptions of how their disabilities in fl uence their

2 what are participants perceptions of how their

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(2) What are participants perceptions of how their disabilities in uence their ability to obtain employment opportunities after graduation from college? Literature Disability laws and de fi nitions Disability laws It was not until the mid-twentieth century that individuals with disabilities in the USA were provided with training beyond high school. The GI Bill of 1944 pro- vided unprecedented access to higher education for veterans with disabilities, but it did not provide civil rights protection. The evolution of substantial non- discrimination legislation appeared as a result of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Consequently, earlier civil rights laws spawned the promulgation of two major laws for people with disabilities: the Rehabilitation Act. (1973) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA 1990). 838 M.M. Kim and B.C. Williams
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Together, these laws set forth mandates for higher education institutions (Kaplan and Lee 1995; Thomas 2000). As a result, institutions are required to provide stu- dents with disabilities equal access to all programs and services in mainstreamed settings together with their non-disabled classmates (Burgstahler and Lopez 2004). In particular, the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination in employment toward people with disabilities, and the ADA mandates employment protections in the workplace and reasonable accommodations in the classroom for students with dis- abilities. The laws have had a substantial impact on the awareness and insight col- lege students with disabilities have about their rights and responsibilities under the law in order to secure employment after graduation. De fi nitions The ADA (1990, 7) states that a person with a disability: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) has a record of such impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment . The inclusion of people with sensory disabilities (hearing or vision loss) is recognized under the ADA as a physical disability. According to the World Health Organiza- tion s de fi nition: Disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity lim- itations, and participation restrictions. Impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a dif fi culty encountered by an individual in exe- cuting a task or action; …’ (2011a, 1). This study applied the World Health Organi- zation s scope on disabilities and deliberately followed the de fi nition of the US disability law in selecting participants. College students and graduates with disabilities in higher education Data from the US Census Bureau show an increase in the number of college students with disabilities, reporting that 2.2 million undergraduates with a disability, as of the 2003 04 school year, or 11 percent of the undergraduate population (2007, 3). The US Department of Education s (2006) National Center for Education Statistics fur- ther indicates the characteristics of the student population in terms of gender: males at 11.2% and females at 11.4%. The race/ethnicity proportions of students with dis-
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