Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Suzanne Horn

Second Advisor

Rhonda Miller

Third Advisor

Nicole Uphold


Data indicate that individuals who disclose their disability status to self-advocate for accommodations at the postsecondary level may be as rare as the mythical unicorn. During the 2019–20 school year in the United States, 7.3 million public education students aged 3–21 years received some form of special education services. These students account for 14% of the nation’s public school enrollment (Irwin et al., 2021). In one study, only 20% of high school students reported having received any instruction on reading and understanding their own Individualized Education Program (IEP; Agran & Hughes, 2008). In another study, only 19% of postsecondary students reported receiving services or accommodations, while 87% of the same sample reported receiving services or accommodations at the secondary level (Raue et al., 2011).

The current study explored the effects of a program designed to fill a research and instructional gap by teaching college-bound secondary students with hidden disabilities how to self-advocate for accommodations. The UNICORNS program delivered instruction via asynchronous interactive video modules (IVMs). The IVMs taught students about self-advocacy, and IEP literacy. The program used a mnemonic to teach eight target behaviors for self-advocating and requesting accommodations. The UNICORNS program included instruction on the four subskills within Test et al.’s (2005) conceptual model of self-advocacy. The study's findings suggest that asynchronous IVMs positively impacted all participants. Implications for practice and future research are provided.