American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Winter 2018 TESTING
by Jill Green
From the Editor: For most students, preparing for and taking high-stakes tests is stressful. The stress level can ramp up even higher for blind and visually-impaired students, who need to arrange for the accommodations they need long before the test day. In her article "College Board Testing Accommodations: What You Need to Know" (Future Reflections, Winter 2014, https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/fr/fr33/1/fr330105.htm) Jill Green explained how students can obtain necessary accommodations. Now, four years later, she provides updated information to help students get the accommodations they need. Jill Green serves as senior director of case management for students with disabilities at the College Board.
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization dedicated to clearing a path for all students. The organization produces a variety of exams that are used by colleges in the admissions process, including the SAT Suite of Assessments (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams in many subject areas. The College Board is committed to providing access and opportunity and to making sure that students with disabilities can take tests, including the SAT, SAT subject tests, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and Advanced Placement exams, with the accommodations they need. Accommodations have been provided on College Board tests since 1939—decades before they were required by federal regulations. Last year the College Board received over 215,000 requests for accommodations from students with disabilities, and the vast majority were approved. Testing accommodations are available for all College Board tests, but requests for the SAT, PSAT 10, PSAT NMSQT, and AP exams must be approved by the College Board's Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) before test day.
The College Board provides many different types of accommodations for its tests. Tests can be provided in Braille, large print, and audio formats. Students may be allowed to use human readers or screen readers. They may be permitted extra breaks and extended time, and they may be authorized to record their answers with the help of scribes or computers. There is no "set list" of accommodations that can be requested; the College Board frequently receives and approves requests for new types of accommodations, such as new forms of assistive technology.
In January 2017 the College Board began to use a new, streamlined process for reviewing requests for testing accommodations. The process was simplified to make it easier for eligible students to access the accommodations they need.
When a student has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), 504 Plan, or Qualified Formal School Plan, most requests for accommodations will be approved if:
In most cases, the accommodations will be approved without the need to submit documentation for College Board's review.
In some cases, documentation will be requested for the College Board's review. For example, documentation may be requested if students ask for extensive amounts of extended time or the use of assistive technology. This documentation is needed so that the College Board can be sure that the accommodation is needed and that it can be used successfully with a particular test. Documentation requirements may vary, depending on the disability and requested accommodations.
When blind students request documentation, they should send in a statement from their school or doctor, confirming their blindness. Students who are visually impaired but not legally blind should send in the full report from a current visual examination, including all visual measurements.
After a request for accommodations is reviewed, the student and the school will be sent an Eligibility Letter from the College Board listing all approved accommodations. Students with a College Board account will be sent an email telling them to log into their account to access the letter.
Once approved, with limited exceptions, accommodations remain in effect until one year after the student's high school graduation. The student doesn't need to apply again when taking another College Board test. However, some accommodations may be given differently on different exams. Students must be sure to review the entirety of the Eligibility Letter, as it may include instructions describing how some accommodations are provided on the different tests.
The College Board offers various types of audio test formats for its tests for approved students. These include:
For PSAT-related assessments and AP exams, the school can request ATC (assistive technology compatible), MP3, and/or reader scripts in the same way that it orders tests for other students. For the national (weekend) SAT, tests do not need to be ordered. However, be sure that students include their SSD number during the test registration process. The SSD number appears on the eligibility letter.
The ATC is an accessible version of the test in Word format, provided on a flash drive. It is intended to be used with screen readers and other assistive technology. In 2018 the ATC will be available for the SAT Suite of Assessments and for most AP exams. When requesting the ATC, students must also be sure to request permission to use assistive technology. Students should include a description of the specific screen reader or assistive technology they will be using and an explanation of why it will be needed on College Board tests. Each type of assistive technology must be requested and approved in order to be used on test day.
The ATC format has been tested with ZoomText (with and without a reader), JAWS, and NVDA. If students plan to use the ATC with a different type of technology, they should practice using the technology prior to test day to ensure compatibility.
This format is a full audio recording of the test, and it is used without a screen reader. It is provided on a flash drive. When students take a test using the MP3 Audio test form, they will test with 100 percent extended time. The MP3 Audio test form is available for the SAT and PSAT-related assessments. Students who are approved for the MP3 Audio format may test with a human reader when taking an AP exam, unless they request an alternative accommodation.
Human readers are available for all College Board tests for approved students. Each student is given their own reader.
Students who test with an ATC, MP3 Audio, or reader will usually test in their own school. Readers are provided in a one-to-one setting. Students who use MP3 Audio or screen readers should use headphones or test in a one-to-one setting if headphones are not available. Before test day it is recommended that students practice using the ATC or MP3 Audio test forms. Practice tests are available at https://www.collegeboard .org/students-with-disabilities/after-approval.
Students can request and be approved for Braille and large-print test formats. Braille tests are available for all College Board exams in Unified English Braille (UEB) with Nemeth Code for math.
If you need additional information about accommodations on College Board tests, visit the College Board website at collegeboard.org/ssd or contact Students with Disabilities at (212) 713-8333, or firstname.lastname@example.org.