Date of Award

Winter 2-23-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership

First Advisor

Bryan McCoy


This research investigated the higher education experience of students who communicate via augmentative-alternative communication (AAC) due to having severe speech impairments. Research questions addressed how the students interact with others in the higher education setting, and the presence and nature of any barriers to full participation in academic and nonacademic activities. Using a qualitative case study design, data obtained from personal interviews and questionnaires were analyzed and interpreted based on the theoretical perspectives of critical disability theory and Astin’s model of student involvement. Key themes included issues with communication; challenges associated with disability; and policy and practice, specifically the role and nature of disability services in student success. Findings were further interpreted relative to implications for higher education leadership, specifically policy and practices related to students with disabilities.