Professional practice placement as a unique challenge for students with disabilities in health and human service educational programmes

Elisabeth Gross, Tal Jarus, Yael Mayer, Shahbano Zaman, Fernanda M. Mira, Jeff Boniface, Manon Boucher, Laura Yvonne Bulk, Stephanie Chen, Donna Drynan, Karen Falcicchio, Elizabeth Anne Kinsella, Rosemary Lysaght, Carmen Moliner, Kathy O’Flynn-Magee, Cori Schmitz, Bette Shippam, Margot Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Students with disabilities face barriers to full participation in Health and Human Service (HHS) programmes. Few studies have focused on students’ experiences in practice placements, an aspect of HHS programmes which yield unique barriers. This study aimed to understand the barriers that disabled students in HHS programmes experience during practice placements and their perspective of how to better support and accommodate them. Disabled students from 12 HHS programmes at a Canadian university and 14 Canadian occupational therapy programmes were invited to participate in a survey about their placement experiences. Eighty-two students responded to the survey. Of these, eleven volunteered to engage in follow up interviews. Results showed that students with disabilities are navigating accommodation practices that frequently lack communication, clarity, ease of use and are structured in ways that are less conducive to ever-changing practice environments. Students expressed relying on relationships with practice educators and placement coordinators to facilitate their accommodations. However, negative attitudes and stigma complicate these processes. Collaboration across HHS programmes is needed to develop clear and effective placement accommodation procedures. Those who support disabled students in placement should receive education on supporting students with disabilities and legal obligations of accommodation. Students may benefit from advocacy and disclosure skill education.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Accommodations
  • disability
  • inclusion
  • professional education
  • students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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