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Testing Accommodations for Students with Visual Impairments or Blindness

Students who are blind or visually impaired require specific accommodations during testing. These accommodations may vary significantly from one student to the next, depending on the individual needs of each student and the nature of each individual class. However, there is one common fact that faculty should remember when testing any student who is blind or has a visual impairment.

Assistive Technology Lab for Alternate Format of Print

Most of these students typically need access to an alternate format for testing, such as large print, braille, or electronic text. As a result, faculty need to plan well in advance (two weeks in advance is strongly recommended) to provide the Office of Disability Services (ODS) with a print or disk copy of all standard print materials so that the ODS staff can convert these materials into the appropriate format.

The ODS has available assistive technology that many students who are blind or visually impaired may utilize during testing. This technology includes magnifying devices, closed circuit television, optical scanner/reader. Each piece of technology is provided in order to ensure that the student has access to the test, through magnification or voice output. Students can receive free training in the use of the equipment through the ODS. Whenever possible, the ODS strives to provide the student with the necessary skills and accommodations that allow the student to perform as independently as possible. Often, this technology provides the student the means to take tests independently.

Readers and Scribes

Occasionally, a test may not be accessible through the use of technology or alternate format. When this occurs, the student can request a reader/scribe through Office of Disability Services. It is the student's responsibility to make this request by completing the necessary Out of Class Testing Request Form in the ODS. Requests must be made at least two business days before the service is needed. The reader/scribe is an employee of ODS. The reader/scribe is carefully screened to ensure that this individual is qualified to proctor each specific exam. The reader/scribe's function is solely to provide the student who is blind or has a visual impairment access to the test and/or other visual materials. As a reader, the individual reads only the printed text. As a scribe, the individual writes exactly what the student says or marks the scantron or other testing instrument. When spelling and grammar are being evaluated, the student must spell each word for the scribe and note the punctuation marks, etc. A reader/scribe does not offer prompting, suggestions, or editing.

Testing Accommodations

Testing accommodations are prescribed on an individual, case-by-case basis by the Coordinator of the Office of Disability Services and are based upon the student's documentation of disability. Accommodations may vary greatly from one student to the next and from one class to the next. Examples of reasonable accommodations that are often required by students who are blind or have a visual impairment are listed below:

  • Extended time for testing
  • Alternative format for standard print
  • Use of magnification devices or assistive technology
  • Taped tests
  • Electronic tests (on disk, using computer with voice output)
  • Reader/Scribe services
  • Mark answers on test rather than scantron
  • Tape answers
  • Type answers on computer
  • Take tests in the Accessible Lab
  • Use of talking devices, such as talking calculators, talking dictionaries, etc.


For additional information

Contact Information
Office of Disability Services
Eileen Cross, Coordinator
Building A, Room 130
Phone: 281.756.3533
TDD: 281.756.3845
Fax: 281.756.5760
Email: ecross@alvincollege.edu
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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