Presentation Assessment Accommodations
What are presentation assessment accommodations?
Presentation accommodations allow students to access test directions or content in ways that do not require them to visually read standard print. These alternate modes of access include visual, tactile, auditory, and a combination of visual and auditory. Sometimes presentation accommodations refer to test instructions only, and sometimes they are used for all or parts of a test. Some states do not allow non-visual forms of print access on some tests, parts of tests, or at certain grade levels.
Who can benefit from presentation assessment accommodations?
Students who benefit the most from presentation accommodations are those with print disabilities, defined as the difficulty or inability to visually read standard print because of a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability.
How are specific presentation assessment accommodations administered?
Large print - Large print editions of tests are required for some students with visual impairments. A regular print test can be enlarged through photocopying, or an electronic version of a test can be manipulated to reformat test items and enlarge or change the font as needed. The latter method is preferable. All text and graphic materials, including labels and captions on pictures, diagrams, maps, charts, exponential numbers, notes, and footnotes, must be presented in at least 18-point type for students who need large print. If a student needs a large print test edition, be sure it is ordered in plenty of time to be available for the test. Check to see if large print practice tests are available. After a student finishes a large-print edition of a test, someone needs to transcribe the student's answers verbatim onto a standard answer sheet.
Magnification devices - Some students with visual impairments read regular print materials and enlarge the print by using magnification devices. These include eyeglass-mounted magnifiers, free standing or handheld magnifiers, enlarged computer monitors, or computers with screen enlargement programs. Some students also use Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) to enlarge print and display printed material with various image enhancements on a screen.
Sign language - Sign language interpreters may be required for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Sometimes an interpreter is only needed to sign test instructions and to assist in communication between the test-taker and the proctor or test administrator. Interpreters need to be able to translate in the same method of sign language typically used by the student. A student's teacher should not be the interpreter in a testing situation unless a second person is present to monitor for quality and fairness. If allowed to sign test items and prompts, interpreters must not paraphrase, clarify, elaborate, or provide assistance with the meaning of words, intent of test questions, or responses to test items. Graphic materials may be described but should also be available in print or tactile formats. A standard video presentation of a test in sign language may be used to increase quality, consistency, pacing, and accuracy. Interpreter services need to be arranged prior to test day with substitutes available.
Braille - Braille is a method of reading a raised-dot code with the fingertips. This type of reading is most common for students who are blind or visually impaired. Not all students who are blind read Braille fluently or will choose Braille as their primary mode of reading. If a student needs a Braille test edition, be sure it is ordered in plenty of time to be available for the test. Check to see if practice tests are available in Braille. The test administrator for a Braille test needs to be provided with a print version of the test during test administration. After a student finishes a Braille edition of a test, someone needs to transcribe the student's answers verbatim onto a standard answer sheet.
Nemeth Code - The Nemeth Braille Code is a system of Braille that makes it possible to convey technical expressions in a written medium to students who are blind or visually impaired. Although Nemeth Code uses the same set of Braille cells as literary Braille, most cells have new meanings assigned to them in order to express the numerous technical symbols that occur in math and science.
Tactile graphics - Tactile graphic images provide graphic information through fingers instead of eyes. Graphic material (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, diagrams, illustrations) is presented in a raised format. Tactile sensitivity is far less discriminating than normal vision, making many diagrams too complicated to understand without significant additional information. Additional information can be created through word descriptions.
Human reader - A qualified person may be provided to read orally to students who are unable to decode text visually. Readers should use even inflection so that the test-taker does not receive any cues by the way the information is read. It is important for readers to read test items/questions and text word-for-word exactly as written. Readers may not clarify, elaborate, or provide assistance to students about the meaning or words, intent of test questions, or responses to test items. Readers need to be familiar with the terminology and symbols specific to the test content. This is especially important for high school mathematics and science. Graphic materials may be described but must also be made available in print or tactile formats.
Readers should be provided to students on an individual basis not to a group of students. A student should have the option of asking a reader to slow down or repeat parts of a test this is difficult when a person is reading to an entire group of students. Reader services need to be arranged prior to test day with substitutes and training available.
Audio tape or compact disk - A test may be prerecorded on an audio cassette or compact disk that a student accesses by listening. Some states provide tests recorded on audiotape. Advantages include ease of operation and low cost. An audio version of a test is not useful for a student who is not familiar, skilled, and comfortable taking tests with this accommodation. The greatest difficulty with an audio cassette is rewinding if a student wants to repeat an item. This is not as difficult with a CD that can be programmed by item. It is critical for students to use this accommodation regularly in classroom work and on classroom and practice tests before using it on a test for accountability. Audio versions need to be supplemented with a print or Braille version of the test so that a student can have access to complicated graphic material. Test administrators need to monitor student movement through audio versions to make sure that the student maintains the appropriate place in the test and that the audio version is playing properly. When using a two-sided cassette tape, students may need to be reminded to play the other side. Test administrators should spot check audio formats before use to make sure everything is working properly.
Audio amplification devices - Some students may require amplification equipment in addition to hearing aids to increase clarity. A test administrator may use an amplification system to give large-group instructions.
Screen reader - A screen reader is a computer application that converts text to synthesized speech or to Braille (read with an auxiliary Braille display). Computer literacy is essential for screen reader use. Screen reading software allows students to listen to test items as they are displayed on a computer screen. Students can choose to listen to any item multiple times. Multiple-choice items are answered by using the mouse to click on an option. Open-ended items are responded to by typing answers in a text box on the screen. Some products work by having a student lay a page on a scanner. When a student activates the machine, it reads the text aloud. Math formulas are normally displayed on screen as graphics that cannot be read by a screen reader.