Assistive technologies to access print resources for students with visual impairment: Implications for accommodations in high stakes assessments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Access or assessment accommodations and arrangements exist to enable students with disabilities to be included in high stakes examinations, and to comply with Equality legislation and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This article explores the accessibility of digital versions of Question Papers offered by UK awarding bodies for high stakes externally assessed examinations. It raises concerns that question papers from five out of six providers are not adequately accessible for candidates with visual impairment who use screen reader technologies and so asks broader questions about ways in which, even in high income countries with a strong espoused commitment to equality, disadvantage can be compounded rather than addressed. Access arrangements offered by awarding bodies should reflect candidates’ ‘normal way of working’; this article presents original and unique data from a survey of Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired in respect of technologies and strategies used by 325 students with visual impairment and finds that up to 16% of these learners are using screen reader tools in school. These candidates may, therefore, be disadvantaged in examinations because the technology they use to access learning resources cannot be successfully utilised to access assessments. The article concludes with recommendations for regulators and providers of assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-247
JournalBritish Journal of Visual Impairment
Volume38
Issue number2
Early online date26 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

Keywords

  • access accommodations
  • accessibility
  • assessment
  • education
  • high stakes testing
  • screen reader
  • technology
  • visual impairment

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