Applying a Socio-Ecological Model to Understand the Psychosocial Support Services Available to Students with Disabilities in Universities

Yaw Akoto, William Nketsia, Maxwell Peprah Opoku, Mark Owusu Fordjour, Emmanuel Kofi Opoku

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of psychosocial support for students with disabilities to participate effectively in universities cannot be overemphasized. As an essential a spect of inclusive practice, psychosocial supports empower students with disabilities and improve their accessibility to and belongingness in higher education. In the Ghanaian context, some attention has been given to challenges students with disabilities encounter during their university education, while less attention has been paid to the types of support they receive. Using Bronfenbrenner’s socio-ecological model as a theoretical framework, this study conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews with 11 participants with a disability, made up of 10 undergraduate students and one lecturer (physical disability: n=8 and visual impairment: n=3), to understand the nature and extent of psychosocial supports institutionalized for students with disabilities in universities in Ghana. The participants were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling approaches from one of the largest public universities in Ghana. The interview data were transcribed verbatim, and theoretical thematic analysis was performed. The psychosocial supports received by the students with disabilities that enable them to maintain their status at the university were presented and discussed around three levels: micro-system, meso-system, and exo-system. The result showed that students with disabilities received most of their psychological support from the micro-system. The study concludes with a call to policymakers to consider the important role of stakeholders such as family and peers as well improve support services to enhance the retention of students with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152
JournalEducation Policy Analysis Archives
Publication statusPublished - Oct 11 2022


  • discrimination
  • family
  • inclusive education
  • students with disabilities
  • university

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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