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College Students with Learning Disabilities: Experiences Using E-Texts

Elizabeth A Nee, Johnson & Wales University


The increasing number of students with learning disabilities (SLDs) attending higher education institutions is well documented (Brinkerhoff, McGuire, & Shaw, 2002; Goodnough, 2011; Hasselbring & Glaser, 2000; Raskind, & Higgins, 1999). E-texts are considered a reasonable accommodation and may help improve reading and comprehension mitigating the effects of learning disabilities (LD) (Wolfe & Lee, 2007). A lack of research exists on e-texts and SLDs, as noted by Wolfe and Lee (2007). The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore self-identified, undergraduate, SLDs' experiences using electronically formatted textbooks (e-texts). The follow research questions guided this study: 1) How do self-identified college SLDs describe their experiences using e-texts? and 2) What are the gaps in using e-texts as an accommodation for SLDs in higher education? This study examined eight (N = 8) returning undergraduate students who self-identified as having a documented LD, on five satellite campuses of a two-year, public institution of higher education in New England. Triangulation was used to validate the findings, which were based on data collected through one-to-one interviews, a reflective questionnaire ( N = 3), and staff (N = 5) interviews reflecting on the value of e-texts use. Content analysis was used to interpret the data. Six principal findings resulted from this study: e-texts as an accommodation, training and instructional support, preferred e-text formats, and benefits to using e-texts, increased confidence and self-esteem, and life aspirations. All of the participants stated that the opportunity to further their education completely changed their lives and they would not be in college without the accommodation of e-texts. Participants also described the use of e-texts as helping to improve their academic work, thereby increasing their self-esteem and self-confidence. The findings of this study may provide university leaders with the information needed to improve services for SLDs by gaining insight into their experiences using e-texts. Campus administrators can use this knowledge to create an environment that is supportive and encouraging of SLDs' use of e-texts by providing needed technology and training; understanding SLDs use of e-texts in college is critical for providing accommodations for SLDs.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Special education|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Nee, Elizabeth A, "College Students with Learning Disabilities: Experiences Using E-Texts" (2012). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3505509.