Invisible Chronic Illness in College: Faculty Perspectives and Student Narratives Surrounding Accommodations
The objectives of this study were to explore faculty perceptions of accommodations for students with Invisible Chronic Illness (ICI), understand what may influence accommodation perceptions in the case of Chronic Migraine, and gain insight into the experiences of students with ICI. Faculty and students at Connecticut College responded to a hypothetical accommodation letter for a student with Chronic Migraine that varied as follows: standard letter (no illness information), diagnosis, illness education from accessibility office, illness education from student. All participants responded to questions about four approved accommodations (distraction-free testing, extended test time, deadline flexibility, attendance flexibility) asking how “most faculty” would judge accommodation appropriateness, feasibility, justifiability, disruptiveness to students and teaching, reduction in class rigor, compromise of an essential element of the class, and sufficiency of information. All student participants were either registered with Student Accessibility Services or were judged to be eligible. Analyses revealed less positive and more negative impressions of the rarer accommodation, attendance flexibility, compared to the other accommodations. More illness information in the accommodation letter than is typically given resulted in more favorable accommodation impressions, especially for attendance flexibility. Analyses of student narratives suggested that illness disclosure and education are challenging, but thought to result in more accommodating and empathic faculty responses. While navigating college accommodations, students with ICI must deal with stigma and illness identity construction which are heavily impacted by the messages they receive from faculty. Results suggest that faculty education about illness impacts and empathic responding to student disclosures, as well as student support for identity-affirming conversations with faculty about their ICI, would be helpful.
Gurley-Green, Andra, "Invisible Chronic Illness in College: Faculty Perspectives and Student Narratives Surrounding Accommodations" (2021). Psychology Honors Papers. 83.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.