Accessibility of people with disabilities to higher education: social attitudes of students and professors of a higher education institution

ABSTRACT Purpose: to compare and analyze social attitudes of students and professors of a higher education institution about the inclusion of people with disabilities according to variables gender, age and areas of knowledge of participants. Methods: the quantitative study was conducted on 601 academics, 583 being students and 18 university professors from a private university, who have contact with individuals with disabilities in the classroom. A questionnaire was applied to identify the social attitudes related to the variables correlated above. Results: the sample included 97% of students, 417 being females and 184 males. Nearly 43% were younger than 20 years and 6% older than 40 years. The female professors and students had higher agreement with the questionnaire, while male professors and students reported lower satisfaction. Concerning age, the younger individuals were the most dissatisfied ones. In relation to the field of knowledge, the Exact, Human and Health Sciences, in this order, presented increased agreement with the research instrument. Conclusion: the study investigated the social attitudes of professors and students about the inclusion of people with disabilities, analyzing the results according to gender, age and area of knowledge, comparing and correlating with the agreement about the questionnaire. The results revealed the need to deepen the studies about variables that may influence the social attitudes related to the inclusion and permanence of these individuals in higher education institutions.