Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Jacqueline E. Jacobs


The purpose of this study was to examine the knowledge of administrators in higher education relative to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Particular emphasis was placed on the population of individuals labeled handicapped because of a learning disability. Given the number of students who receive federal aid and the wording of subsections 84.3(f) and 84.3(h) of the Federal Register of May 4, 1977, it is probable that all American postsecondary educational institutions are required to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It appears that one of the populations to be served is that consisting of individuals labeled learning disabled. Professionals in the field of learning disabilities do not appear to have a definition of adult learning disabilities. Authors have noted the most common characteristic of adults labeled learning disabled is the mastery of courses in the individual's area of concentration but failure of course electives (Haig, 1980; Sims, 1974). Individuals labeled learning disabled are attending postsecondary institutions as "qualified handicapped persons." The Federal Register of May 4, 1977, subsection 84.42(b)(3) makes provisions for these individuals during admissions tests; subsection 84.22(b) provides for program accessibility. Most program modifications have taken the form of learning resource centers (Agin, 1974). In order to have program accessibility, attitudinal barriers must be overcome. All persons involved with the campus must participate in working with students labeled handicapped to aid in the removal of attitudinal barriers so that program and physical accessibility might be realized. A survey was distributed to Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs of 41 state-owned colleges and universities offering at least a master's degree. The Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs were requested to distribute the survey to the first ten department chairpersons who appeared on an alphabetized list. Following a pilot study to evaluate the instrumentation, the survey was distributed. The survey consisted of sixteen case examples, and the respondents were asked to check the law which applied. Only 8.53% of the surveys were returned. A mean score of 38.4%, median score of 28.6%, and standard deviation of 41.5 was computed. An examination of the data revealed that no item was answered correctly or incorrectly by all of the respondents. An item analysis suggested that each item did discriminate in the same way the overall survey was intended to discriminate. No significance was found between the percentage of correct responses and department type, faculty labeled handicapped, and size of institution. Department chairpersons appeared to be more knowledgeable of physical access than program access. The area of learning disabilities appeared to be an area in which department chairpersons were less knowledgeable. Department chairpersons did not appear to be knowledgeable of Section 504.