Some examples of the test/exam accommodations that have been made by the university include:
Specified extended time (e.g., time and one-half) is the most common and perhaps easiest accommodation to implement. The appropriate amount of additional time will depend on the specific circumstances of each individual student.
Scribing is the process whereby a student dictates responses to a designated scribe, who does the actual writing. Details of this accommodation should be carefully explained to the student and the scribe, including spelling, grammar, and punctuation requirements. This accommodation is commonly used, for example, by students with limited manual dexterity or certain types of learning disabilities.
A reader is a person who is designated to read the test/exam aloud to the student. This accommodation is commonly used, for example, by students with certain types of learning disabilities and visual impairments.
Computer and/or adaptive technology
Evaluation alternatives can also include the use of technology and equipment such as a wordprocessor, large print software (e.g., ZoomText), scanning/reading sofware (e.g., Kurzweil 1000 and 3000), voice-dictation software (e.g., Dragon Naturally Speaking), screen-reading software (e.g., JAWS), talking calculators, hand-held spelling and grammar checkers, closed circuit televisions (print magnifier), etc. This technology is commonly used by students with print disabilities including those with certain learning disabilities, visual impairments, and motor disabilities to the hands and arms.
Students with disabilities who have difficulty concentrating or have severe test anxiety may need to write their tests/exams in a quieter, less distracting environment. Students who are hard of hearing may also benefit from this accommodation as it can be distracting for them to write their tests/exams in large group settings because their hearing aid(s) generally can pick up a lot of background noise such as foot shuffling and coughing.
For some students with chronic illnesses, the time of day a test is given is important (e.g., energy levels may be reduced at certain times during the day, or a student may have a pre-determined medication or treatment schedule).
Some students, including those with certain learning disabilities and visual impairments, may require tests/exams in alternative formats (e.g., audio tape, large print, electronic text, etc.).
Assistance completing computer score sheets
Some students with disabilities (e.g., those with limited manual dexterity, visual impairments, certain learning disabilities, etc.) may find it difficult or impossible to complete computer score sheets. An alternative solution is to have the student answer directly on the test paper, with a designated individual transferring the answers to the score sheet. Alternatives should be discussed and agreed upon by both the student and the professor.
Alternatives to written tests/exams
Oral evaluation, for example, is sometimes recommended for students with severe problems in written expression, particularly if the expected written responses are extensive. It may also be a viable option for students with severe reading disabilities. Several options exist for the provision of this strategy:
- In the case of multiple-choice or short-answer questions, the student may be able to write the answers if the test or assignment is presented orally.
- The test may be presented on an audiotape and the student responds on another audio tape.
- The test may be read to the student and the answers scribed.
- The student may be interviewed on the material and asked to demonstrate their knowledge orally.
To ensure that the student has adequate time to properly prepare for the oral exam, it is important that the professor provide an advance explanation of the exam format, expectations, and grading procedure.
Alternatives to oral tests/exams
Oral evaluation can be difficult for students with speech impairments. For example, some students with cerebral palsy may have difficulty articulating. Some students with head injuries may speak very slowly. Some students with a learning disability may have difficulty finding the appropriate word. Others may have serious stuttering problems. Some alternatives to oral evaluation might include:
- replacing an oral presentation with a written presentation
- allow the student to tape the oral presentation in a more relaxed environment (e.g., at home)
- permit someone else to read the student's prepared talk
- allow the student to give their oral presentation using adaptive technology such as the JAWS screen reading software
In some cases, clarification of a question may be the only accommodation a student needs. For example, some students with learning disabilities may need assistance with directions and/or the vocabulary on tests and exams. In such cases, the Blundon Centre staff will endeavour to contact the professor for clarification. If the professor cannot be reached, the student should indicate on the test that he/she completed the question(s) on the assumption that a particular interpretation was intended by the professor.