When I was in high school, my teacher announced that we would be filling out anonymous instructor evaluations so that we could provide feedback on our learning experiences. They said that we could write whatever we wanted, that no one would know which student filled out each evaluation, and that we should take the time to write out as much feedback as possible. After passing out all of the instructor evaluations, my teacher then handed me an accessible copy of the evaluation in large print. At that moment, I realized that my so-called anonymous feedback would not be anonymous after all.
Since I was worried that the teacher would retaliate against me if I wrote something negative, I proceeded to write extremely neutral or vague answers to the different questions on the page- as an example, when asked what I had learned in this class, I wrote down the course name with no other information. My teacher and case manager did not find this very amusing, but agreed that having a copy of the evaluation that looked different from everyone else’s made it more difficult to be anonymous!
Just like the other students in my class, I had the right to provide feedback anonymously and without fear of retaliation, and this right couldn’t be taken away from me just because I have low vision. Since that experience, several options have been introduced for filling out instructor evaluations with low vision while preserving anonymity, and today I’ll be sharing some of the options my teachers and professors have used in their own evaluations.
Fill out evaluations in the Disability Services office
For students that utilize the Disability Services Testing Center or that can’t fill out instructor evaluations in the classroom, students can bring a copy of the evaluation form to Disability Services and complete the evaluations by using a desktop video magnifier or dictating answers to a scribe- the dictation option is especially helpful for students who receive accommodations related to handwriting or dysgraphia. Disability Services can then submit the evaluations on the student’s behalf or have the student deliver evaluations to a secure drop-off area so that their evaluation can be added to the class folder.
For students in K-12 schools that do not have a dedicated disability services area, I recommend filling out evaluations with their case manager, in a guidance counselor’s office or another location either during or outside of class time, and requesting that the finished evaluation be placed in the class folder by a staff member.
- Testing Accommodations For Low Vision Students
- What To Bring To The Disability Services Testing Center
Use a magnifier or cell phone to enlarge text
After the instance where I received a distinctive large print evaluation, my case manager suggested that I use a magnifying glass or video magnifier to enlarge text on the page, so that no one would know which evaluation I filled out. I ended up using my cell phone camera in lieu of a video magnifier for one of my evaluations, which worked out well since I could easily hold it over the page, and set my phone down as needed to write.
Request an impartial scribe
While I appreciate having my friends help me with writing down answers to group assignments, I don’t feel comfortable receiving assistance from another classmate when filling out instructor evaluations, especially since they could inadvertently share my answers with other students. Instead, I would ask for someone like my case manager, a paraprofessional, or other staff member to write down my answers as an impartial scribe. This often meant I had to leave the classroom while filling out evaluations, but I was confident that they would not share my answers with anyone else.
Print all evaluations in large print
When filling out a departmental evaluation, one of my professors printed all of the instructor evaluations in large print, so that students with low vision didn’t have to leave the classroom or use any additional assistive technology. I really appreciated this since it meant I didn’t have to walk across campus, and made sure to mention this to my professor after I turned in the evaluation.
Make evaluations available online
Instead of passing out paper copies of instructor evaluations, some of my teachers and professors give students the option to fill out instructor evaluations online, either using a tool like Google Forms or a quiz function within the course website. This ensures students can complete tasks like enlarge text, use text-to-speech, or other forms of assistive technology to complete their evaluation without additional assistance.
Bonus- Using RateMyProfessor
RateMyProfessor is a popular website used frequently at colleges and universities and allows students to submit anonymous feedback about their professors online. I try to complete RateMyProfessor evaluations for all of my professors and mention information that would specifically benefit other students with disabilities who are planning to take the class, such as if the professor followed my accommodations, if the textbook was available in a digital format, and if they were comfortable with students using personal devices in the classroom.
- How To Request Accessible Textbooks In College
- Tips For Handling Academic Ableism In The Classroom
- Reporting Academic Ableism For Someone Else
Other tips for filling out instructor evaluations with low vision
- If possible, use blue or black ink to fill out instructor evaluations, as this is likely what the other students are using
- Many universities have an instructor evaluation drop-off box that students can access, so students can complete evaluations outside of class time and drop them off later
- Before leaving the classroom to complete an instructor evaluation, double-check the course name, section number, and professor’s name, as students may need to write this information on the evaluation themselves