AHEAD Research Agenda

Guided and informed by its diverse membership, AHEAD is uniquely qualified to bring together researchers and consumers of research to explore and create welcoming higher education experiences for disabled individuals.

In 2019, the AHEAD Board of Directors approved an AHEAD Research Agenda to guide AHEAD research activities in three broad areas:

  • Conducting research
  • Promoting awareness of high need topics for research that supports practice
  • Influencing a culture of collaboration between research and practice professionals
To support scholarship in the field, AHEAD provides open access to its professional journal, the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability (JPED). The JPED has published more research on topics relating to postsecondary disability than any other academic journal.

For AHEAD members, the Information Services Portal provides professional resources for understanding, using, and applying research and data in the work of disability resource offices. Here you will find a growing repository of resources including AHEAD’s biennial surveys and topical reports, as well as models and samples of exemplary data-based practices generated by the membership.

For researchers interested in accessing the AHEAD membership as part of their research endeavors, the AHEAD Research Review Panel reviews all requests.

The following list of research topics have been identified as high need areas for the field.

Research Priorities for the Field

Disability Resource Office Structures, Policies, and Practices

  • Data-based decision making for effective disability resource office structures, practices, and staffing
  • Accommodation decision-making practices (e.g., professional role, student involvement) and procedures (e.g., instructor notification; adherence to protocols)
  • Student development practices (e.g., strategy instruction, disclosure resources, use of technology)

Institutional Structures, Policies, and Practices, Including Supports and Accessibility Work Outside the Disability Resource Office

  • Campus collaboration and structures (e.g., electronic information technology [EIT] committees and policies, inclusive career planning and services)
  • Cross campus programming (e.g., new student orientation, first year experience)
  • Faculty training in implementing academic accommodations (e.g., training methods, frequency, outcomes)
  • Legal issues (e.g., patterns of discrimination complaints and outcomes)
  • Processes for resolving student complaints concerning disability services/accommodations or discrimination

Social Justice Practices

  • Campus assessment and training (e.g., campus climate surveys; training for staff, administration, non-disabled peers)
  • Program design, implementation and outcomes (e.g., universal design, disability studies)
  • Partnership practices with other campus offices that have social justice responsibilities (e.g., social equity offices)

Trends and Outcomes

  • Students with disabilities (e.g., emerging populations, veterans, student-athletes, non-disclosing students, ELL, international, intersectionality, marginalized groups)
  • Admissions to college
  • Graduation and persistence (e.g., national data, campus data)
  • Outcomes from participation in disability resources, campus supports, specialized programs
  • Environmental metrics across campus that reflect trends in inclusion and equity

Use of Existing Research and Data

  • Meta-analyses or systematic reviews on topics such as study strategies, trends in legal compliance, and accommodations (e.g., notetaking, testing, alternate formats, technology). Include literature from partner fields such as special education, rehabilitation counseling, psychology, disability studies, etc.
  • Use of national datasets (e.g., NCES data)
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Recommended Resources

The following documents are the products of the Making Disability Visible in Higher Education Conference funded by the Spencer Foundation.

For questions or more information about the Making Disability Visible in Higher Education project, contact Dr. Annemarie Vaccaro (avaccaro@uri.edu).