What is revealed about disability services and how they are communicated to autistic students in higher education institutions in the UK and Saudi Arabia through the medium of the university website: A documentary analysis
Date: 1 June 2020
University of Exeter
Doctor of Philosophy in Education
Disability services in higher education (HE) settings broadly focus on removing barriers to learning and enhancing students’ learning and development. This research focuses on understanding how disability services are presented to students with autism in the websites of Saudi and UK HE institutions. University websites are especially ...
Disability services in higher education (HE) settings broadly focus on removing barriers to learning and enhancing students’ learning and development. This research focuses on understanding how disability services are presented to students with autism in the websites of Saudi and UK HE institutions. University websites are especially important for students with disabilities, including students with autism, as these are likely to be the first medium they encounter regarding how a university views them and responds to their needs. However, little, if any, research seems to have previously been conducted in this area. A clear need therefore exists to understand how the disability services presented to this population are mediated via such websites. The research project reported in this thesis was conducted in three stages. The first stage involved identifying the types of services that seem to be offered to university students with autism in the websites of 153 UK and 58 Saudi Arabian universities, as well as manually evaluating the visibility and navigability of these websites using a set of criteria. Identifying the types of services that seem to be offered in HE institutions’ websites helped develop a better understanding of these services and facilitated the second stage of this research. The second stage involved a sample of 15 Saudi and UK HE institutions’ websites that seemed to offer autism-specific services rather than just generic services, which were examined through in-depth discourse analysis and thematic analysis. This stage closely evaluated how HE institutions communicated their autism-specific provisions to the visitors of their websites. The third stage involved content analysis and thematic analysis of the websites of four universities—two from Saudi Arabia and two from the UK—as well as a comparison of these universities in terms of the influences that seemed to shape the organisation of their disability services. This stage aimed to understand the differences between the UK and Saudi contexts in the disability services offered to autistic students. The findings of this research show the nature of the provision offered according to the websites of Saudi and UK universities and the way this provision is communicated. The results of this study may benefit students on the autism spectrum, as well as professionals in the field, by revealing how disability service centres seem to understand the needs of university students with autism, as portrayed through their websites.
Item views 0
Full item downloads 0