Resources for Disabled Students (RDS) provides alternative testing services as an accommodation/academic adjustment for students who have a learning, visual, hearing, mobility, or other disability that significantly affects, or limits, the ability to take exams in a traditional setting and/or format. Alternative testing services are a means of providing conditions that minimize the effects of a particular disability in order to ensure the student is able to adequately demonstrate his/her knowledge or mastery of a course. These conditions are not intended to alter the fundamental nature or requirements of any course.
Eligibility for this service is determined by an assessment of a student’s individual needs by the RDS Accommodations/Advocacy Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff. Students must have appropriate documentation of a disability in order to be eligible for alternative testing services. The affects, or limitations, of the disability must also support the need for alternative testing services as assessed and verified by the RDS Staff member.
Alternative testing services may be requested by a student or be recommended by the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff as an appropriate academic adjustment/ accommodation after an assessment of needs.
All students who request alternative testing services for the first time must meet with the RDS Specialists or other appropriate RDS staff for approval. Once approved, alternative testing services must be requested by a student each semester in order to continue this service. All student requests for alternative testing services are submitted through the Student Information form when the student meets with an RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff for approval and for continuation of services. Approval and continuation of services will be provided documented for each semester.
The RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff may also recommend and approve alternative testing services under conditional status for a student who presents a strong indication he/she may need this academic adjustment/accommodation but does not have supporting disability documentation. Strong indication includes but is not limited to: prior history of support services in school, indication the student is in the middle of a diagnostic process, or other clear indicators that a student likely has a disability that would significantly affect his/her ability to perform on exams. These indicators will be documented by the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff as part of the recommendation and approval for services. Conditional status is limited to no longer than one semester. Continuation of service is dependent upon provision of supporting disability documentation.
Students who are temporarily disabled due to injuries affecting their ability to write may also be eligible for alternative testing services. Students who are temporarily disabled due to injuries or other acute conditions may be granted conditional status through their recovery but no longer than one semester of service.
The provision of alternative testing as an academic adjustment/accommodation involves effort on the part of the student, the faculty member and RDS staff, as indicated. While some simple accommodations may be provided directly by the faculty, others may require more extensive use of RDS Alternative Testing Services for implementation.
Once approved for services, students will be instructed and oriented to the process of alternative testing through RDS. Instruction and orientation may be provided by the RDS Alternative Testing Coordinator or other appropriate designee. The student is expected to discuss his/her needs with instructors to determine whether or not using RDS Alternative Testing Services will be compatible with a particular course or method of assessment. The RDS Specialist or Alternative Testing Services Coordinator is available to both the student and instructor if any concerns arise regarding compatibility.
As part of the approval process for services, a student will receive a memo each semester verifying his/her eligibility for alternative testing from the RDS Specialist or other appropriate RDS staff. The memo outlines the accommodations for which a student is eligible to receive. The student must give a copy of this memo to each instructor in whose courses an accommodation will be required for test-taking purposes prior to the time an accommodation is requested and/or needed. Faculty are not required to provide an accommodation until notified appropriately by the student and/or RDS. The accommodations recommended by an RDS Specialist will be the only accommodations provided to the student for any exam/quiz.
Students in a “conditional” status will also receive a memo for instructors, outlining the accommodations recommended by the RDS Staff member and indicating the conditional status of the student. Because it is likely the student will be able to verify the need for the accommodation during the semester, RDS encourages faculty to provide the accommodations recommended for students in a conditional status, especially in support of the university’s goals for retention. The retention of students with temporary injuries or other acute conditions can also be enhanced through this type of conditional accommodation.
While faculty are responsible for providing academic accommodations to students with disabilities based on individual needs, they are not responsible for accommodations until a student makes his/her needs known to an instructor. Because the measurement of performance may be highly affected by a student’s disability, a reasonable accommodation is provided to minimize the effects, or limitations, of the disability. The goal is to provide the student with an equal or equitable opportunity to be measured on what he/she has mastered.
Reasonable testing accommodations include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Extended time (time and a half to double time
• Reader and/or scribe
• Computer/adaptive technology
• A less distracting environment
• Oral processing
• Substitute formats of exams (e.g., essay vs multiple choice)
• Adjustable table height
• Alternative text (print conversions)
• Ability to move from sitting position as needed
If utilizing RDS for Alternative Testing Services, generally students are given extra time for each exam/quiz (time and a half to double time). The extra time is a common accommodation for specific types of disabilities and also allows for the time needed to complete an exam/quiz in an alternative method. Examples of alternative methods include the use of an reader and/or scribe, the use of a computer, or the use of an interpreter.
Exceptions to the above policies may be made based on individual student need and circumstances only through the approval of the RDS Director. Exceptions may be requested from the RDS Director by the student, RDS Specialist, and/or RDS Alternative Testing Services Coordinator.
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