For individuals with disabilities, accommodations make the difference between access to opportunities and being shut out of those opportunities. Accommodations, while vital, vary from individual to individual and depend on many different factors. Join the Bridges Helpdesk as we explore understanding, identifying, and advocating for accommodations in the area of assessments, including quizzes and tests, state-required tests, and tests required for college admission and for earning college credit.
Join us as we explore blind/low vision-related accommodations, from definition through their application on high-stakes tests.
- April 5: Accommodations versus Modifications
- April 12: Categories of Assessment Accommodations
- April 19: Importance of Using Assessment Accommodations Consistently
- April 26: Guides to Testing Accommodations for Blind/Low Vision Students in Maryland
In this second installment of our “Assessment Accommodations April” series, we discuss the different categories of accommodations related to assessments, including high-stakes testing. Understanding these categories helps one determine which accommodations are needed to provide both access and equivalent ease of use when taking assessments.
Categories of Assessment Accommodations
Presentation refers to how you interact with the assessment. Examples of presentation accommodations include:
- Braille (hard copy or on a refreshable braille display)
- Enlarged print (hard copy or using a magnification tool)
- Via a computer or tablet using screen reading or magnifying software
- Tactile graphics
- Human reader
Response accommodations deal with the manner in which you provide your answers and include:
- Embossing braille (typically with a brailler, your responses are then transcribed)
- Handwriting (your responses are then transcribed)
- Electronic entry (into a QWERTY or six-key keyboard or using another data entry device; your responses are then transcribed)
- Human scribe (you verbally provide answers; your responses are then transcribed)
- Tactile graphics
- Human reader
Setting accommodations refer to the environment where the testing occurs. Common setting accommodations include:
- Small group testing setting
- Individual testing setting
- Alternate location (might include testing at home)
- Special furniture/desks
- Headphones to reduce environmental noise
Timing/Scheduling accommodations refer to alterations in the length of time for a portion of the assessment or for the assessment as a whole. Common timing/scheduling accommodations include:
- Time of day
- Extended time
- Frequent breaks
- Multiple test sessions
- Testing over multiple days
Determining Which Accommodations You Need
In order to get accommodations, you must show that you need them in order to have access to the assessment and/or in order to have equivalent ease of access to the assessment. Accommodations do not give you an advantage; they merely attempt to counter disadvantages you face because of the inaccessibility of the “regular” assessment.
While too many accommodations can slow you down, you are entitled to all the accommodations you need. For example, you might be a braille reader who uses both tactile graphics AND print graphics. You do not have to choose which type of graphic you will use; you have the right to request and receive both – assuming that you need the accommodations as a result of a qualifying disability.
Also, you are entitled to all the accommodations you need to meet all areas of disability. For example, a student might be a braille reader but might also have a reading disability. That student might need both braille assessments and human reader support. The human reader is needed because the student cannot efficiently or accurately read text as a result of the reading disability. The braille is needed because the student can read braille even though it is difficult because access to the braille may help the student focus on certain words in the passage. Again, the focus is on the student’s individual needs created by the student’s disabilities, not on disability categories.
Reach Out to the Bridges Helpdesk
Deciding what accommodations you need can be overwhelming, but know that we are here for you. If you want to discuss these matters, including how to develop your own “Reasonable Accommodations Request,” reach out to us. We are ready, willing, able, and eager to help!
Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text: Send to: (410) 305-9199
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
- Voice mail: Call (443) 320-4003, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.