Veronica With Four Eyes

SAT Accommodations for Low Vision

When I was researching information about transitioning to college with low vision, I learned that all three of the colleges I planned to apply to strongly recommended that students take the SAT test with writing at least once. This meant that I was going to have to not only study for the exam but also study how to get SAT accommodations for low vision, as traditional pencil and paper exams with standard-sized print are inaccessible to me. Since I was somewhat familiar with testing accommodations for low vision, the process for getting disability accommodations for the SAT wasn’t overly stressful, though it’s critical that students and parents know what accommodations are available and how to request them. Here are my tips on requesting SAT accommodations for low vision, based on my own experiences.

Accessible SAT study resources for low vision

Before I talk more about getting SAT accommodations for low vision, here are some examples of places to get accessible SAT study guides for low vision students or students with print disabilities. I will not be recommending a specific book or guide, rather a way for people to find accessible copies of existing resources.

  • Bookshare is an online library that has hundreds of thousands of books, including SAT study guides. Bookshare books come in a variety of formats, including audio, EPUB, Braille, and more. For students in the United States, Bookshare memberships are available free of charge.
  • For students who are working with SAT study guides as part of a class at school, the school can request an accessible copy of the test prep materials through their state’s accessible instructional materials provider. In Virginia, that provider is AIM-VA, and the accessible materials are provided at no cost to the school.
  • Brainfuse is a free library service that offers tutoring and practice tests for the SAT, as well as other standardized tests
  • Khan Academy is another free website that has several accessibility features and targeted videos to help students study for the SAT
  • There are several skills on Amazon Alexa and other virtual assistants that can help students prepare for the SAT test

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How to file for SAT disability accommodations

Accommodations will need to be filed in advance

My family and I contacted my high school testing coordinator and worked with them to file my SAT accommodations twelve weeks prior to the day I planned to take the SAT at my school district’s school-based testing center. Typically, if a student is approved for accommodations that are used on another College Board test such as an AP exam or the PSAT, they will not need to file for accommodations again unless the accommodations have changed. However, my accommodations needed to be updated after I had moved to a new school district and received an updated IEP.

Request specific accommodations

SAT accommodations for low vision will need to be as specific as possible, and it’s not uncommon for someone to have over a dozen accommodations listed because of this. For example, a student would need to request computer access for a test, plus access to a screen-reader and access to a screen magnifier- these are three separate accommodations. Some accommodations can also only be implemented in a school-based testing center, not at a national SAT testing center. I go into more detail about the specific accommodations I requested in the next few sections.

Submitting documentation for accommodations

In order to get SAT accommodations for low vision, the testing coordinator had to submit supporting documentation that provided information about why these accommodations were being requested. My family and I provided the following documentation, which was sent to the College Board for review:

  • A copy of my latest IEP
  • A note from my ophthalmologist that listed my diagnosis of accommodative esotropia, visual acuity/visual fields, and recommendations for accessible print materials
  • An additional note from my primary care doctor describing my neurological issues (which were undiagnosed at the time but later confirmed to be from Chiari Malformation) and recommendations for an adapted testing environment

Getting SAT accommodations approved

About a month after we submitted the documentation and forms requesting SAT disability accommodations, I was approved for all of the accommodations that we had requested, and I was able to take the test on the day that I expected. I didn’t have to change my accommodations when I took the SAT for the second time, but I did notify the testing coordinator when I planned to take the test again.

SAT exam score delay

Because I received my SAT in an accessible format, I had to wait an additional  4-6 weeks after scores were released to receive my own scores, as there is typically a delay with scoring tests that are in modified formats. However, there is no way for a person to know that a student received accommodations on their SAT unless the student discloses it themselves.

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Filling out forms before test day

Before taking the SAT, students have to fill out several forms that cover a lot of information, such as where the test scores should be sent, where the test is being taken, and other information. My mom and I went to the school testing center the day before the actual SAT to fill out all of these forms since they were not sent to us in large print. As a result, we had the ability to bypass several registration lines the next morning at the testing center- though we did have several angry parents yell at us since it appeared we were cutting the line.

Environmental accommodations for SAT

The following accommodations are related to the testing environment in which I took my SAT. I have noted where these accommodations appear in Section 12 of the Student Eligibility Form provided by the College Board.

  • 12.2- Breaks as needed. This was not related to low vision and was granted due to my neurological condition, though students prone to eyestrain can also request this
  • 12.4- Computer/word processor for essays
  • 12.5- Small group testing. I was the only student in the room that day and had at least two staff members present at all times
  • 12.5- Other. A note was written in that we would have lamps turned on instead of overhead lights, which was related to my neurological condition and had previously been an approved accommodation for my state standardized tests

Can I request both a scribe and computer/word processor for essays on the SAT?

The form for requesting accommodations states in section 12.4 that users cannot select both a computer/word processor for essays accommodation and a scribe accommodation. However, I spoke with a representative from the College Board’s SSD office in May 2021 and they stated that if a student has supporting documentation that shows why they would need both of these accommodations, then it will likely be approved. This could mean that the student would be able to type their own answers for the essay portion and then later work with the scribe on the multiple-choice questions. Students will need to work with their testing coordinator to determine if this accommodation will work best for them.

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Accommodations for the SAT exam

The following accommodations are related to the characteristics of the accessible SAT test. I have noted where these accommodations appear in Section 12 of the Student Eligibility Form provided by the College Board.

  • 12.1- 50% extended time, also known as time and a half,¬† for reading, written language expression, and mathematical calculations
  • 12.3- Large print test book, 20 pt. The test book itself was an 8.5″ x 11″ spiral-bound book with thick paper, and questions were printed in Arial font. Images were enlarged 250%, and math notation was also printed in large print
  • 12.3- Magnifier. I was able to use a handheld magnifying glass for enlarging information, though if I could go back in time I would have requested a magnifying machine (also known as a CCTV or video magnifier) instead.
  • 12.4- Large block answer sheet/no bubbles
  • 12.5- Other, use of Sharpie pens to mark answers

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Additional assistive technology accommodations for the SAT

The following accommodations are related to the use of assistive technology on the SAT test. These accommodations were listed as part of Section 12.5 in the Other category of the Student Eligibility Form provided by the College Board.

  • 12.5 Other, use of the myScript digital large print calculator on an iPad with Guided Access. This app had previously been approved for use with state standardized testing, and did not have graphing capabilities. I used my personal iPad and Guided Access was enabled for the duration of the exam so that I could not access the internet or other apps
  • While this was not listed as an accommodation, the writing/essay portion of my SAT was completed in Microsoft Word with the dictionary, encyclopedia, and internet functions disabled, and the essay was printed after I finished typing

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List of SAT accommodations for low vision students

My official SAT accommodations read as follows:

  • 12.1- 50% extended time, also known as time and a half,¬† for reading, written language expression, and mathematical calculations
  • 12.2- Breaks as needed
  • 12.3- Large print test book, 20 pt
  • 12.3- Magnifier
  • 12.4- Computer/word processor for essays
  • 12.4- Large block answer sheet/no bubbles
  • 12.5- Other, use of lamps instead of overhead lights
  • 12.5- Other, use of Sharpie pens to mark answers
  • 12.5- Other, use of myScript digital large print calculator on an iPad with Guided Access.

SAT Accommodations for Low Vision. All about SAT disability accommodations and my experience requesting and receiving SAT accommodations for low vision and an additional neurological condition