Response Instructional Accommodations
What are response instructional accommodations?
Response accommodations allow students to complete assignments, tests, and activities in different ways or to solve or organize problems using some type of assistive device or organizer.
Who can benefit from response instructional accommodations?
Response accommodations can benefit students with physical, sensory, or learning disabilities (including difficulties with memory, sequencing, directionality, alignment, and organization).
How are specific response instructional accommodations administered?
Different ways to complete assignments, tests, and activities
A scribe is someone who writes down what a student dictates through speech, sign language, pointing or by using an assistive communication device. The student is responsible for telling the scribe where to place punctuation marks, for indicating sentences and paragraphs, and for spelling certain words. There is a lot of skill involved in using a scribe, skill that requires extensive practice.
A scribe may not edit or alter student work in any way, and must record word-for-word exactly what the student has dictated. Scribes should request clarification from the student about the use of punctuation, capitalization, and the spelling of key words, and must allow the student to review and edit what the scribe has written.
A person who serves as a scribe needs to be carefully prepared to assure that he or she knows the vocabulary involved and understands the boundaries of the assistance to be provided. In general, the role of the scribe is to write what is dictated, no more and no less.
This option may increase a student's independence and reduce the need for a trained scribe. Research has found that students who complete better work on computers than hand writing are students who are very familiar with computers and have good keyboarding skills. Assistive technology that can be used for typing includes sticky keys, touch screen, trackball, mouth or headstick or other pointing device, and customized keyboards.
Speech-to-text conversion or voice recognition allows a student to use his or her voice as an input device. Voice recognition may be used to dictate text into the computer or to give commands to the computer (such as opening application programs, pulling down menus, or saving work). Older voice recognition applications require each word to be separated by a distinct space. This allows the machine to determine where one word begins and the next stops. This style of dictation is called discrete speech. Continuous speech voice recognition applications allow students to dictate text fluently into the computer. These new applications can recognize speech at up to 160 words per minute. While these systems do give students system control they are not yet hands free.
A Brailler is a Braille keyboard used for typing text that can then be printed in standard print or Braille (embosser). The Brailler is similar to a typewriter or computer keyboard. Paper is inserted into the Brailler, and multiple keys are pressed at once, creating an entire cell with each press. Through an alternative computer port, newer Braillers can simultaneously act as a speech synthesizer that reads the text displayed on the screen when paired with a screen reading program.
Portable note-taking devices are small, lightweight devices equipped with a Braille or typewriter-style keyboard for input and synthetic voice. Some note-takers also contain a Braille display (between 18 and 40 characters) for output. Note-takers are excellent tools for recording notes in school, at home or at work. They often have additional features such as a calculator and a calendar function. Newer models have a built-in modem, which allows the user to access e-mail as well as surf the Web. When connected to a PC, files can be exchanged, or information can be sent from the note-taker to a Braille embosser or to an ink printer. When linked to a computer using a screen reader, note-takers equipped with a Braille display can act as a Braille output device.
Student work is recorded on a tape recorder rather than written on paper. Students may also present work orally.
This accommodation allows a student to write directly in a text or on a test rather than on an answer sheet (e.g., scannable "bubble" sheet).
Students who are able to use bubbled answer sheets may benefit from having an adult simply monitor the placement of their responses, to ensure that they are actually responding to the intended question.
Materials or devices used to solve or organize responses
If a student's disability affects math calculation but not reasoning, he or she may request to use a calculator or other assistive device (e.g., number chart, arithmetic table, manipulatives or abacus). It is important to determine whether the use of a calculation device is a matter of convenience or a necessary accommodation.
It is important to know the goal of instruction before making decisions about the use of calculation devices. For example, if students are learning subtraction with regrouping, using a calculator would not give a student an opportunity to show regrouping. On the other hand, if students are learning problem solving skills that include subtraction (e.g., bargain shopping for items with a better value), the use of a calculation device may be a valid accommodation.
Calculators may be adapted with large keys. Calculators with voice output (talking calculators) are also available.
An abacus may be useful for students when mathematics problems are to be calculated without a calculator. The abacus functions as paper and pencil for students with visual impairments.
The use of a dictionary may be allowed on assignments that require an extended response or essay. Spelling and grammar can also be checked with pocket spellcheckers. Students enter an approximate spelling and then see or hear the correct spelling or correct use of a word. Students who use a word processor may be allowed to use a spell check or other electronic spelling device. Some states require spell-check and grammar-checking devices to be turned off for writing tests.
Visual organizers include templates, highlighters, place markers, scratch paper, and graph paper. Students may not be allowed to write in books that are owned by the school. Photocopying parts of written text allows a student to use a highlighter and write in the margins.
Graphic organizers help students arrange information into patterns in order to organize their work and stay focused on the content. Graphic organizers are especially helpful for writing reports and essays. Semantic mapping software is now available to enable students to understand a narrative story or writing elements through graphics.