Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Michael T. Miller

Committee Member

Valerie H. Hunt

Second Committee Member

Kristin K. Higgins


Social sciences, Education, Americans with Disabilities Act


Disability Services Providers (DSPs) have historically been the personnel tasked with implementing federal disability policy at postsecondary institutions primarily since the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. The model adopted by the majority of DSP offices is student-driven and requires students seeking academic accommodations must go through a formal process to determine eligibility for services, and then play an active role in their provision. Disability-related policies at the campus level are usually authored by DSPs who are seen as experts by the institution and its stakeholders. However, sometimes the campus policy environment and other implementation challenges can limit the ability of the DSP to effectively establish or modify policies to make them more in line with the services needed by students with disabilities attending the institution.

The study was conducted to explore what factors affect the discretion exhibited among Disability Services Providers (DSPs) as they implement the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Acts (ADAAA) on their respective campuses through the policy implementation lens of Lipsky’s (1980) street-level bureaucrats theory. The study utilized a convenience sample of DSPs at colleges and universities whose main responsibility was to implement the campus-based disability policies through their daily work practices and routines. The study found that Disability Services Providers (DSPs) considered 18 of the 28 AHEAD performance indicators to be critical to the implementation of the ADAAA. Although the campus policy environment may not have an effect on what DSPs consider to be critical to the implementation of federal disability policies, it can influence what services are provided by Disability Services offices. Increased demand for services was identified by DSPs as the number one implementation challenge at the campus level.