Exam Accommodations For Students With a Disability
This procedures and guidelines document is intended for staff and students of University College Dublin (UCD). Its purpose is to outline the procedures that govern the granting of examination accommodations for students with a disability in timed examinations in UCD.
This document has been developed by Access & Lifelong Learning (ALL), in consultation with UCD Registry – Assessment and is informed by the DAWN “Policy, Guidelines and Procedures for the Granting of Reasonable Accommodations in Examinations to Students with Disabilities,” November 2012. The advice of the UCD Widening Participation Committee was also sought and feedback has been incorporated. The procedures and guidelines are informed by national and international good practice and are subject to regular review.
UCD is committed to ensuring, as far as possible and within the framework of current legislative requirements, that students with disabilities have equality of access to and participation in all examinations and assessment procedures. This includes end-of-semester examinations and any other examinations that contribute to module or course results. Students with disabilities will be enabled to demonstrate their knowledge and competency on an equal footing with their peers.
Reasonable accommodations are defined as those actions that enable students to demonstrate their true knowledge and ability in examinations without changing the demands of the examination. The intention behind the provision of such accommodations is to alleviate a substantial disadvantage without affecting the integrity of the assessment. The granting of reasonable accommodations is not intended to put the integrity or status of the examination or in-class assessment at risk, and is designed to ensure fairness to all students (full- and part-time).
Roles and Responsibilities
Responsibility for ensuring equality of access in examinations and assessments lies with the University. Responsibility for determining the allocation of reasonable accommodations rests with Access & Lifelong Learning, through a Needs Assessments process that is carried out in consultation with each student.
The co-ordination of the processes associated with the provision of reasonable accommodations is undertaken by Access & Lifelong Learning, in collaboration with Assessment (UCD Registry), Academic Schools and Programme Offices and the student. The particular responsibilities are as follows:
Students are responsible for registering for disability support with Access & Lifelong Learning.
Access & Lifelong learning is responsible for completing a Needs Assessment with the student and ensuring the details of the reasonable accommodations agreed are entered into the Students Banner record.
Assessment (UCD Registry) is responsible for coordinating reasonable accommodations for end-of-semester examinations.
UCD Schools are responsible for coordinating reasonable accommodations for in-class assessments.
Exam Support Procedures
Procedures Governing the Allocation of Reasonable Accommodations in Examinations
Students with disabilities shall register with UCD Access & Lifelong Learning and complete a Needs Assessment. This will determine the level of support required in university, including reasonable accommodations for examinations.
The need for a particular accommodation is determined through the Needs Assessment process, taking account of the student’s individual needs and the impact of the disability in an examination setting. Reasonable accommodations are intended to support students to become more independent in their learning.
Students with disabilities who have received reasonable accommodations in Irish state examinations, other institutions and/or jurisdictions will only be granted reasonable accommodations on the completion of a Needs Assessment with UCD Access & Lifelong Learning. Reasonable accommodations should not be provided without prior consultation with UCD Access & Lifelong Learning.
Reasonable accommodations may be reviewed with each student annually by Access & Lifelong Learning. Students who fail to use a reasonable accommodation that has been granted will have that accommodation reviewed.
Students with disabilities should follow the UCD Student Complaints policy to appeal a specific examination accommodation that has not been granted.
Students with disabilities shall provide appropriate supporting documentation from an accepted Medical Consultant or Specialist (see Appendix 2).
It is the student’s responsibility to inform UCD Access & Lifelong Learning of any changes to his/ her disability which may require new or revised accommodations. Changes to examination accommodations are only approved following an updated Needs Assessment with Access & Lifelong Learning.
Assistive Technology is the preferred accommodation for examinations unless the student is unable to use the recommended technology due to the nature of his/ her disability.
Students with disabilities who require specialist examination supports such as assistive technology or a reader/ scribe shall attend training in the use of such accommodations. It is the student’s responsibility to be proficient in the use of technology for examinations.
It is the responsibility of Assessment (UCD Registry) to ensure that all announcements or amendments by lecturers are conveyed to all students with disabilities sitting examinations in separate examination venues for end-of-semester examinations.
On completion of the Needs Assessment students with disabilities will be notified by Access & Lifelong Learning of the supports that will be provided in UCD, including reasonable accommodations that have been granted for examinations. The provision of reasonable accommodations in examinations will also be made known to the relevant academic, administrative and examination staff by Access & Lifelong Learning.
Such information is included in Infohub Class List reports, which are available to all Module Coordinators.
Module Coordinators are advised to check Infohub regularly, as this information is frequently updated, as a student may choose to request reasonable accommodations at any time during their course of study.
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Students with disabilities receiving reasonable accommodations normally sit their examinations in a different venue to their peer group. These venues are normally shared with other students. Only in exceptional circumstances will a student with a disability sit an examination in a room on their own.
Students whose examination performance is significantly impacted by a disability may require extra time in examinations. Extra time may also be used by students who require a rest break or a break for medication during examinations. Guidelines for determining reasonable accommodations for students with a disability who have a reading, writing or spelling difficulty are listed in Appendix 3. Extra time is set at 10 minutes per hour. In exceptional circumstances this extra time may be extended by Access & Lifelong Learning.
Students, due to the nature of their disability, may have a particular difficulty with spelling, grammar and written expression. These students are provided with a ‘Refer to marking guidelines’ label, which is attached to their script for the purpose of informing the examiner of these particular difficulties and providing a framework for the marking of their scripts. Marking Guidelines apply to timed examinations only. Where a core component of assessment is that of competence in spelling, grammar and written expression, it is not possible to disregard these elements (for example, languages, journalism).
Students whose ability to write is significantly impaired may require a computer during examinations. This is determined through the Needs Assessment. A basic word processing package (WordPad) will be available on computers used in examinations.
Scribes may only be granted for students who cannot handwrite or use a computer due to the nature of their disability. Where a core component of assessment is that of competence in spelling, grammar and written expression, it is not possible to disregard these elements (for example, languages, journalism). In other subjects, testing written communication skills, including English or Irish, a scribe will be allowed, but the student will be assessed only on those aspects of written communication which he or she can demonstrate independently, such as the use of language and effective grammatical presentation. Additional time of ten minutes per hour and a separate venue will be provided when using a scribe.
A student who is eligible for a computer or a scribe may use approved (by the AT Officer) voice recognition software. The use of a computer with voice recognition software requires a separate examination venue and invigilator.
Students whose ability to read is significantly impacted by a disability may require a reader in examinations. Most students will be accommodated together in the same venue with a shared reader. An individual reader will only be provided in exceptional circumstances. In most cases students will use Assistive Technology (for example, text to speech software) to read the examination paper. Where the student is using Assistive Technology, an electronic paper will be required. UCD is currently reviewing the provision of electronic readers.
Students with disabilities may require alternative furniture (i.e. chair support, writing board, footstool etc.) in examination venues.
Alternative Format can be:
- Wheelchair Access flag alerts the examination centre that a wheelchair accessible room is required.
- Epilepsy Awareness flag makes the examination centre aware that the candidate has epilepsy. From September 2013 the following accommodations will no longer be applicable. However there are a number of current student who have these accommodations, therefore they are included for information purposes only.
- Writing Awareness flag in info hub is used to alert the examiner that the candidate has poor handwriting and may find it difficult to write quickly or may misuse upper and lower case letters. Students with handwriting difficulties will be encouraged to use a computer for examination purposes. Examiner will be made aware of this support through infohub ‘My class lists’.
- Awareness of psychological difficulties flag makes the exam centre aware that the candidate has psychological difficulties which may become worse in stressful situations.
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may require written instructions in place of those that are normally read out by the Invigilator.
Students with significant on-going illness may need to sit in an examination venue which is close to a bathroom.
Students who are blind or vision impaired may use a computer with JAWs (screen-reading software) installed for examination purposes.
Students who are vision impaired may need to use a computer with Zoom Text (magnification software) installed for examination purposes
Digital Dictaphone recorders may only be granted for students who cannot handwrite or use a computer due to the nature of their disability. Where a core component of assessment is that of competence in spelling, grammar and written expression, it is not possible to disregard these elements (for example, languages, journalism). In other subjects testing written communication skills, including English or Irish, a scribe will be allowed, but the student will be assessed only on those aspects of written communication which he or she can demonstrate independently, such as the use of language and effective grammatical presentation. Additional time of ten minutes per hour and a separate venue will be provided when using a digital Dictaphone recorder.
Students with disabilities who are registered for other supports but do not require reasonable accommodations in examinations.