At my college, students that have a Disability Services file can use the Disability Services Testing Center and receive testing accommodations for low vision. The exact accommodations vary, though the testing center is willing to work with students to find the accommodations that work best for them. Here are my testing accommodations for low vision that I use for quizzes, exams, and other proctored assignments.
I frequently request that materials be on some sort of tinted background. I like to use a colored filter on my video magnifier or add a tint to the computer screen. If I am receiving paper materials, I ask that they be on a colored background whenever possible, because it helps with glare and eye fatigue.
- Colored paper and the readability of text
- How to reduce eyestrain with technology
- Why I wear tinted glasses
I have trouble reading serif fonts, which are commonly found on exams. Because of this, I request that my exams be available in Arial or another print disability friendly font, though Arial is the most common.
So one day in tenth grade, the paraprofessional enlarging my work decided to print my tests double sided, something that had never happened before. When I started writing on the test, the sharpie pens I wrote with bled through so I didn’t notice there was information on the back.
My math teacher approached me after looking at my test and said “great news! You did really well on half the test…you just didn’t see the other half.” Thankfully, she let me redo the other half, and I never received double sided papers again for testing.
I have what my family calls supersonic hearing, meaning that my sense of hearing is elevated to compensate for my lack of sight. As a result, I can get easily distracted in testing environments by water dripping from a faucet, the air conditioner, and even voices from halfway across the hall. As a result, I wear earplugs, or sometimes just headphones unplugged from my iPod. These help to muffle background noise and help me concentrate better.
Time and a half
For timed tests, I receive time and a half so that if there is a problem during the test or if I just need the extra time, I have it. While I don’t often use it, it was extremely helpful during my SAT and ACT tests.
iPad apps, when necessary
I rely on certain apps for my learning on the iPad, including a calculator. I have been able to use the myScript Calculator for the state standardized tests, called the SOL in Virginia, the SAT and ACT, and in the classroom as long as guided access is enabled on my iPad.
Modified testing software
The Disability Service Testing Center at my college uses its own exam monitoring software. Normally, I can use the Respondus LockDown browser that my professors require with no issue. However, when I combine the Respondus LockDown Browser with the MyMathLab software for my calculus class, disaster ensues.
If there are software issues, discuss these with your school assistive technology specialist, disability services case manager, or professor as soon as possible.
Most tests require students to use pencils, but I am unable to see pencil lead due to the very faint gray color of the lead. While this is no problem in college to use, I had it specifically written into my IEP that I could use pens. Obviously, I did not use Scantrons.
Low light testing environment
I have pretty intense photosensitivity and bright fluorescent lights are one of my enemies. For my standardized tests, ACT, SAT, and college tests that I take where I am the only one there, the lights are dimmed 50% so my eyes don’t burn from the light. In college, the overhead lights are not used and I have a lamp next to me instead.
Having access to a CCTV is the reason I have done so well on tests this semester. My personal device is the E-Bot Pro, which connects to my iPad via wifi. Some testing centers may provide their own CCTV for students, so check first before bringing your own.
All of this assistive technology starts to pile up very quickly on a normal-sized desk. While I don’t believe this is written into my accommodations, taking a test on a larger table in the classroom is always something I request. My geology professor lets me set up all of my technology on her desk, and there’s always been a large table lying around somewhere back in high school.
High contrast images, graphs, and maps
When I took geography as a ninth-grader, my teacher noticed I had trouble reading the maps and enlarged them on PowerPoint for the entire class to use so that the symbols were clearer. He noticed test scores went up because everyone found it clearer to see. Having images that are easier to read benefits more than just the student needing the accommodation.
Summary of testing accommodations for low vision students
- Colored paper/filters
- Arial font
- Single-sided paper (so that ink does not bleed through)
- Time and a half on exams/extended time
- Use of iPad applications when approved
- Modified testing software
- Use of Sharpie pens
- Adjustable lighting
- Use of a CCTV such as the E-Bot Pro
- Large table
- High contrast images, graphs, and maps