A naturalistic study of the daily activities of disabled and nondisabled college students



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Ten college students with a physical disability severe enough to require the use of a wheelchair, and ten nondisabled students were matched in pairs on a number of demographic variables. All students then recorded their activities, locations visited,and companions on five days interspersed through a two week period. The data obtained were coded into categories and analyzed along the following dimensions: Range - the number of different categories used. Occupancy - the time spent in each category. Frequency - the number of separate occurrences of a category. Distribution - the ranking of categories by either time or occurrences. Population - the number of subjects using a category. Rate - the average time spent per occurrence of a category. Similarities and difference were studied using the Spearman rank correlation coefficient and the t-ratio for dependent samples. It was discovered that the disabled students had as wide a range as the nondisabled group for activities, locations and companions. In addition the occupancy time, distribution and population results were very similar for the two groups. Differences occurred on rate and frequency measures. The nondisabled students produced more instances of activity or entries into locations than did the disabled group. Since the occupancy time was similar across groups, the average time per occurrence of a category was lower for the nondisabled students. A very mild effect attributable to disability was found by considering the direction, but not the magnitude of differences across all categories. In most cases the difference was in the direction predicted by assuming less mobility and activity by disabled subjects. However, when any given category was considered alone this effect was overpowered by individual variation. It was concluded that this sample of disabled college students do not fit the stereotype of the passive, isolated disabled person. The ecology of their daily lives was functionally equivalent to that of the nondisabled student, though differing in some details.



People with disabilities--United States, College students--United States