Graduation Date


Document Type

Capstone Project

Project Type

Mixed Methods

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L

Faculty Advisor

Laura Hess, PhD, OTR/L


Current trends in higher education include an increased enrollment of students who have a disability and a rising trend of technology use within the classroom. Assistive technology (AT) has been shown to enhance academic success and influence learning strategies. Furthermore, the combination of AT and individualized support has the potential to promote and enhance engagement in meaningful occupations, such as participation in school, for individuals with and without disabilities. However, the procurement of AT alone can often have less impact than AT combined with individualized support. Occupational therapists (OT) can play a significant role in HE providing training and individualized support for the use of AT. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact and lived experience of students with and without disabilities and AT use in combination with individualized support to address occupational engagement in HE. Participants of this study received two types of AT software, Notability© and BEST Suite©, and were randomized into groups with or without additional individualized support. The research questions were: (1) How do the AT apps Notability© and BEST Suite© impact performance and satisfaction for students with and without disabilities? (2) How do the AT apps Notability© and BEST Suite© with and without individualized support impact occupational performance and satisfaction for undergraduate students? (3) What AT features impact undergraduates with and without disabilities? and (4) What is the lived experience of undergraduate students given AT with and without individualized support? Results indicated that use of a universally designed AT support promoted clinically meaningful change among participants’ performance and satisfaction in their self-reported academic areas of challenge. In addition, the importance of individualized support was identified as valuable among participants and may diminish the likelihood of AT abandonment. Researchers highlight the role of OT for AT in HE.

Available for download on Thursday, December 01, 2022