Instructor Resources

Download Test Procedures form here.

Common Accommodations
A student with disabilities must have equal access to an accurate record of the course lecture. If the student's disability impacts their ability to receive an accurate record of the course lecture then it will be indicated on the accommodation form in one of the following ways deemed most appropriate.

Note taking
Suritsky (1992) conducted a survey with students who have learning disabilities and asked them the difficulty they had with note taking. Students reported that the most challenging aspect of note taking was writing fast enough. Hughes & Suritsky compared students with learning disabilities to those without learning disabilities with regard to note taking ability. The results of the study revealed that students without learning disabilities recorded 60 - 70% more information than those with learning disabilities.

The Professor's Role in Recruiting Student note takers:
Students who are new to College often will not have a friendship network in place. Others may not wish to disclose their disability to others in the class. These students may have difficulty finding a note taker. In these situations, professors may be asked to announce to the class that a note taker is required by a student in the class and a volunteer is needed. A professor may also privately ask students if they would be willing to be a volunteer note taker, if the professor feels that the student is taking good notes. Sometimes the student with a disability may already have a friend or feel comfortable eliciting a note taker themselves. Free carbonless notebooks are available for the note takers or it can be worked out with project Assist to make copies of the notes. Any issue or concerns regarding note taking should be directed to disability services.

Copies of Overheads/PowerPoint Materials
In addition to receiving notes from another student, students benefit from receiving copies of professor's overheads and PowerPoint materials prior to class, for use during the lecture. In a study of note taking skills of students with learning disabilities, Lazarus (1991) found that students were better able to determine what information was the most important to include in their notes when they were provided with outlines which guided their note taking. Posting PowerPoint slides and lecture materials on Blackboard is a simple way to ensure students have access to this accommodation. This request doesn't include access to your personal preparation notes for class.

Taping Lectures
For students with difficulties in remembering and/or recording auditory information, taping the lecture can be helpful. Students sign a confidentiality agreement in disability services regarding the appropriate use of tape recorded material.

Some students with disabilities have varying degrees and types of processing problems which prohibit them from completing work in the same amount of time as a student without a disability. These students may need time adjustments in order to provide them with equal access to expressing their knowledge.

Extended Time for Tests/Exams
Most, but not all students with learning disabilities receive extended time. Research has demonstrated the value of extended time as an accommodation to address the information processing deficits, students with learning disabilities encounter. Speece (1987) found that 76% of readers with learning disabilities exhibited a speed deficit. Logically, additional time would allow them to overcome this difficulty. Runyun (2001) conducted a study comparing a group of students with learning disabilities with those without learning disabilities. Each group was controlled for ethnicity, gender, age and aptitude. The study revealed a significant difference between scores obtained by students with learning disabilities and those without learning disabilities under timed conditions. The groups read passages under both regular and extra timed conditions. There were also no significant differences in test performances between the two groups given extra time. Students without learning disabilities did not perform significantly better with extra time. All students with learning disabilities reported having to reread the passage several times to gain maximum comprehension.

Extra time has also been supported for students with learning disabilities on math tests. In a study conducted by Alster (1997), students with learning disabilities score significantly lower than students without disabilities on algebra tests under timed conditions. Under untimed conditions, students with learning disabilities did not significantly differ from timed or untimed scores of students without disabilities. Alster (1997) was able to demonstrate a "differential boost" on math tests for students with learning disabilities.

A psychoeducational assessment is used to determine whether or not a diagnosis of a learning disability is appropriate. It examines, through a series of standardized tests, a student's ability to process visual and auditory information, their organizational skills, processing speeding and ability to attend and concentrate. Most students with learning disabilities receive 50% extra time. When a student requires more than 100% extra time, this must be clearly stated in the student's psychoeducational or medical documentation.

Students taking medication for a mental health issue or students with head injuries may also experience difficulties with memory and concentration. Extended time can assist in accommodating these difficulties. Students with mobility and sensory disabilities may require more time due to technology requirements or the use of a scribe. Finally, students may also have medical conditions that require them to take supervised breaks while writing. 

Extended time is put in place to allow students to compete on an even playing field with their non-disabled peers.

Extensions for Assignments
Students with information processing difficulties work many additional hours to complete their assignments. Towards the end of term when many assignments are due, they may encounter workload difficulties. He/she may request an extension. Although students may be aware of assignments from the beginning of the course, frequently they will require attendance in class to understand course material well enough to complete the assignment successfully. 

Alternate deadlines for assignments are to be negotiated between student and Professor, with disability service's assistance when necessary. Extensions depend on the length of time given to other students for the assignment. One week is usually suggested. This time often allows students to acquire the necessary class knowledge to complete the assignment successfully.

Students with learning disabilities may need adjustments to ensure equal access in minimizing the impact that their disability has on receiving or expressing information- we also call this leveling the playing field.

Lists of Texts Prior to Class and Readings
Sometimes disability services must arrange for the provision of materials in alternate formats i.e. e-text, tape for students with visual disabilities or with learning disabilities. This requires 6-8 weeks lead- time. For this reason you may receive an early request for course readings.

Use of Computer with Spell Check
For some students with learning disabilities, spelling is an on-going issue that isn't mastered by practice. The use of a computer with spell check is a frequent accommodation in these situations. The ready availability and portability of computers and other spelling devices within the workplace allows students to demonstrate their competence as employees on placements or as employees.

When students with learning disabilities are completing writing assignments where access to a computer is not allowed, they should not be unduly penalized for spelling errors.

For some students, a computer is used as an accommodation because of their difficulties with writing and writing speed. In one study (Burk, 1998), students with learning disabilities scored significantly better when able to type their responses on a computer compared to handwriting. There were no improvements found in those who had no learning disabilities.

Use of a calculator
Students with certain processing problems involving working memory, fluid reasoning, and/or long term memory may need the use of a calculator in math. The use of a calculator frees up memory for a student to complete more complex math steps and problems. The use of a calculator is like a spell checker on a word processor. Students with disabilities can then focus on the mathematical process and not just the recall of mathematical facts.

Answering in the test booklet rather than the Scantron sheet
Some students with visual tracking problems may have difficulties transferring their responses to an answer sheet (e.g. Scantron). Tolfa-Veit and Scruggs (1986) conducted a study, which compared students who used answer sheets and those that did not. Although there were significant differences found between general and special education students in the number of items copied onto an answer sheet (97 vs. 86 respectively), they found no significant differences in the percentage of items marked correctly (both groups were about 97% correct). These results suggest that it is not the knowledge which is lacking but difficulties in transferring information.

Some students with learning disabilities have problems writing essays because of the mechanics of putting text on paper - spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and handwriting (Graham, Harris, MacArthur, & Schwartz, 1991). For these individuals, mechanics of writing impede higher order processes of composing (i.e. generating, organizing, expressing ideas in coherent form). A study conducted by Macarthur and Cavalier (2004) explored the use of accommodations such as dictation to a scribe and to a computer using speech recognition software as procedures to remove the barriers to written expression that come from the mechanics and handwriting fluency. Two groups were asked to compose essays by either handwriting, dictation to scribe or through speech recognition software. The writing quality for students with learning disabilities was found to be better using speech recognition software than handwriting and was better using a scribe than using speech recognition software. There were no differences in the quality of writing across the three conditions for students without learning disabilities.

Students who are blind or low vision and those with mobility disabilities may also dictate test responses to a scribe.

Use of Cue Cards and Formula Sheets
Metacognitive skills refer to the procedural knowledge that is required for the actual regulation and control over one's learning activities (Veenman & Verheij, 2003). These skills include planning, checking, storing, monitoring, organizing and retrieving information effectively.

Some students have difficulty retrieving the information they have studied. It is as if the keys to the filing cabinet are misplaced. Cue cards outline the broad categories of information required for a test to trigger memory.

Students with difficulty in sequencing information may be unable to write formulas accurately. Formula sheets allow them to demonstrate that they understand and can apply the formulas that they are learning. 

In both of these situations memory aids can be developed and are portable enough for use in the workplace. Students will be able to demonstrate their competence in similar ways.

Use of a formula sheet or cue care is negotiated between the student and professor, with assistance from disability services when necessary. Where a professor feels that accommodations of this nature cannot be used without compromising essential academic requirements, disability services may ask the professor to provide an explanation. This ensures that the information is documented should the student pursue a complaint.

Alteration of Print
Students with visual disabilities are expected to benefit from a large print accommodation. Large print allows students with visual disabilities to boost their scores in a reading test over standard administration, while students without visual disabilities do not appear to benefit from large print accommodation (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2001). Beattie, Grise and Algozine (1983) compared the performance of students with and without disabilities on a regular print version versus and an enlarged print version of a test. More students with disabilities mastered the skills when taking the modified version than when the test was taken under standard conditions.

Some students with visual disabilities benefit from extra spacing between words. Burk (1998) found that although students in general education demonstrated no advantage to receiving extra spacing, students with learning disabilities increased their test scores by an average of 10.82 points with extra spacing.

Other Possible Test/Exam Accommodations:

Use of a private or semi-private space to reduce distractions or accommodate students based on a medical or mental health disability. Use of assistive or specialized technology to reduce the barriers of a disability (e.g. exams scanned to Kurzweil (text to speech program) ) Need for specific equipment/furniture (e.g. obus form chair, lamp for dim lighting, CCTV to enlarge test and written work, etc.)

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