Creating accessible examinations and assessments for disabled students

Alternatives to what is assessed

How an assessment is conducted may affect what can be assessed. In some subjects, marks may be deducted for mistakes in spelling, grammar or presentation.

"Examiners in Chemistry generally concentrate on the chemistry presented by the candidate. So generally ignore defects in writing, spelling and grammar."

Yet where students are using assistive technology, such as speech recognition software, or an amanuensis, then spelling, grammar and presentation may be shaped by the medium for communicating responses. Or consider the case of a student making an oral presentation using a Voice Output Communication Aid, such as a Light Talker, or a sign language interpreter; intonation would be outside of the student's control in such a case, yet it might well be that the effective control of intonation is among the features of a performance which the examiners seek to reward. If the academic department is clear about what is being assessed, discussion with the student and the disability service may bring to light possibilities for alternative ways of making the assessment.

"For example, if a visually impaired student is given much longer to acquire data in a lab test, it is important that the class as a whole appreciates the reason. The 'level playing field' must be related to the challenge involved not some more arbitrary variable such as time. Similarly, a physically disabled student might be asked to log a rock section in a series of road cuttings, whereas the remainder of the class may be asked to log some crags or river cuttings. As long as the difficulty in interpreting the geology is comparable, such strategies should be acceptable to all reasonable students"

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