Administrators' perceptions and responses regarding wheelchair sports as social interaction in public and private universities

Brenda Pearl Spyer, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine the general concepts, specific ideas, and possible reservations of administrators regarding sports for students with disabilities. To explore this subject further, their perceptions and responses about wheelchair sports, specifically wheelchair tennis as a potential source for social interaction in small groups, were also examined. The information gathered in this exploratory research constitutes a basis for further study into and implementation of wheelchair sports programs on the university level. Five universities were purposely chosen. Two had wheelchair sports programs, three did not. Twenty-five administrators at the five universities were interviewed. These administrators occupied vice president, director/dean, and assistant director/dean positions. Also, the responses of two GAs and two students, equally divided between the two university groups, were interspersed for relevance. For both groups of administrators, this qualitative study used six semi-structured generic questions to discover how they perceived wheelchair sports as a means of integrating students with disabilities into university life. Subjects at the two universities with wheelchair sports programs exhibited characteristics of communities bonded together by common interests, policies, and a mission. These common interests allowed them to explore together innovative ideas, support ongoing programs, share meaning, and receive satisfaction from their work. These administrators strongly believed that wheelchair activities belonged at their universities, and like every other group of students, those with disabilities had the right to be included in campus activities. Administrators at universities without wheelchair sports programs revealed a lack of knowledge about activities for students with disabilities. Five of the 15 interviewed blatantly said that this was not their area of responsibility. Several stated that their major concern was accommodations such as accessible ramps and parking spaces. While some did indicate a willingness to help in any way they could, the majority of administrators abided by principles characterized by an impersonal affiliation and lack of openness toward change.

Subject Area

School administration|Higher education|Sports medicine|Physical education|Recreation

Recommended Citation

Spyer, Brenda Pearl, "Administrators' perceptions and responses regarding wheelchair sports as social interaction in public and private universities" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9809022.