Harvard Educational Review
  1. Going to College

    Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities

    Edited by Elizabeth Evans Getzel and Paul Wehman

    Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes, 314 pp. 2005

    In the foreword to Going to College, James R. Patton notes the dearth of books about disability in higher education. In addition, few books guide the professionals who provide postsecondary services to students with disabilities, reflecting a lack of nationwide postsecondary certification or degree programs to train staff in this field. Elizabeth Evans Getzel and Paul Wehman have edited a book to fill these gaps: Going to College: Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities.

    This book is divided into four sections. The first establishes legal and postsecondary contexts, as well as general considerations for providing services to disabled students, especially those making the transition from high school to college. The second section discusses specific strategies for providing services and creating a welcoming college environment, which is complemented by the third section’s coverage of specific approaches for students with psychiatric disabilities, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, and intellectual disabilities (e.g., developmental disabilities). The final section makes recommendations for preparing students in their transition from college to employment.

    Student voices are clearly missing from this book, which is written by professionals and directed to professionals. Most chapters illustrate theory and practice with overly simplistic fictional student cases. Instead, I would have welcomed quotes, interview data, or student writing about higher education and disability services. Student perspectives could have added depth and complexity to the authors’ central arguments, while illustrating respect for students with disabilities and their point of view (which often differs significantly from those of professionals). At times the authors emphasize best practices at Virginia Commonwealth University, including supported education, a student-centered model of services based on psychosocial and rehabilitation practices that is traditionally used with students who have psychiatric disabilities. (Nine of twenty-one authors are from Virginia Commonwealth University, where they use a model of supported education.) References to these practices are sometimes detrimental to other valid options that focus on campus-wide or systemic change, as well as sociological or other progressive views of disability that can inform service provision. Also missing were chapters tying the emerging field of disability studies to disability services and views of access. In addition to these problems, the book’s editing is uneven, with minor misstatements and an overreliance on the passive voice (especially in early chapters) that is distracting.

    Yet this book is an excellent resource, especially for deans or vice presidents supervising college disability services offices. It provides a general overview of multiple aspects of disability services, offers resource lists at the end of each chapter, and gives practical recommendations in every chapter. Going to College is a highly readable overview of the field of disability services and an introduction to disability issues in higher education. While most of the authors write for an audience of professionals in postsecondary disability services, special education transition programs, and vocational rehabilitation, Going to College will also be of interest to students with disabilities and their parents.

    Books on disability in higher education usually focus on specific disability groups (e.g., learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism) or legal requirements for colleges, so this book is also notable for covering cross-disability issues from multiple professional points of view, including student development and vocational orientations. Considering the relative newness of disability services as a professional field, the authors do an admirable job of weaving in existing literature and research. This book also pushes educators by including a chapter on universal design in instruction, as well as a chapter on serving students with significant intellectual disabilities (a small but growing group on campuses). Comprehensively covering everything from college planning to postgraduation employment, the scope of the book is ambitious.

    I recommend Going to College as a unique contribution to education. Disabled students constitute a significant proportion of students on campuses nationwide, and this book is an important reference for anyone concerned with disability services and access.

    W. S. H.
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    Book Notes

    Going to College
    Edited by Elizabeth Evans Getzel and Paul Wehman

    The Joy of Teaching
    By Peter Filene

    Is Bill Cosby Right?
    By Michael Eric Dyson

    Johnny Mad Dog
    By Emmanuel Dongala, translated from the French by Maria Louise Ascher