Emperical Paper

Rob Matchett was diagnosed with several disabilities at a young age, including ADHD, anxiety, specific learning disabilities in reading and mathematics, and childhood epilepsy. Additionally, his father suffered from a degenerative disease known as Leebers, which attacks the optical nerves. Growing up around people with disabilities, and being a person with disabilities himself, Matchett was no stranger to disability stigma and the impacts that it could have on self-esteem. Upon going to college, Matchett realized that there needed to be greater awareness around disability and disability attitudes in higher education. Over the past two years, Matchett has developed this piece exploring the dimensionality of disability stigma and the implications of multidimensionality on university faculty’s accommodation attitudes. (See abstract below)


Background: Despite stigma’s implications on attitude formation, mention of disability stigma in research surrounding university faculty’s accommodation attitudes is scant. Further, the limited selection of literature that has explored disability stigma amongst faculty has conceptualized it as a unidimensional construct. To address these gaps in the literature, the present manuscript explores the factor structure of disability stigma and the implications that these dimensions could have on the accommodation attitudes of university faculty.

Objective: I argue that disability stigma is a multidimensional concept, and that viewing disability stigma as multidimensional has significant effects on accommodation attitudes.

Method: The present study uses survey data collected through a convenience sample of university faculty at a large, southern, four-year public institution (N=198), and addresses the following research questions: (1) Are stigma beliefs towards individuals with disabilities multidimensional? And (2) Does the dimensionality of disability stigma affect accommodation attitudes? An exploratory factor analysis was conducted to identify the dimensionality of disability stigma. Then OLS regression models were conducted to assess the implications of disability stigma on accommodation attitudes.

Results: Factor analyses revealed four key dimensions of disability stigma: sensory disabilities, physical disabilities, cognitive/developmental disabilities, and psychological disabilities. Additionally, OLS regression results revealed that these dimensions of disability stigma do not have uniform effects on faculty attitudes toward accommodations. Results suggest that stigma towards individuals with disabilities is multidimensional and has significant effects on accommodation attitudes.

Keywords: Stigma, (Dis)ability, ITSI, Attitude Formation, Higher Education, University Faculty

Paper coming soon!