NIC’s Department of Accessible Learning Services (DALS) facilitates and promotes the ongoing development of an inclusive learning environment. Digital testing accommodations are an integral component for mitigating disability impact within the learning environment. Students requiring digital exam accommodations have been asked to continue to book their exams following the standard DALS procedures. DALS review all accommodated exam requests and reach out to both students and instructors to facilitate accommodations.
The following are considerations for delivering digital exams for students with disabilities. If you have any questions about accommodating students with disabilities for a digital exam, please reach out at https://www.nic.bc.ca/student-services/accessible-learning-services/. See also downloadable PDF of this web page.
Description: Giving students extra time on an exam
Considerations: Wherever possible, instructors will be required to manage the additional time accommodation as per the student’s accommodation letter. Digital testing platforms (such as Blackboard Learn) have built in functions for increasing or removing testing time limits. Email the firstname.lastname@example.org for support with adjusting the timing variables on quizzes and tests in Blackboard Learn. Take home or open book exams often have a very long exam writing window so may or may not require extra time added for students with disabilities.
Description: Respondus Lockdown, Canvas, Proctorio, etc.
Considerations: Online proctoring platforms are not fully accessible and are not compatible with the provision of some disability-related accommodations (the ability to stand up/move around the room or some adaptive software). To address this, DALS may need to work with the student and instructor to adjust the standard invigilation procedures or explore alternative platforms, test formats and or evaluation methods. In some cases, it will also be necessary for specific exams to be invigilated by DALS.
Private space or distraction-reduced environment
Description: Many supported students require an environment in which they can concentrate without outside stimuli for distraction.
Considerations: In general, students are responsible for finding a suitable space in their home or alternative to write. It may be worth considering that many students with disabilities will find it difficult to find somewhere to write an exam in an environment which mitigates the functional impact of their disability -sustained attention, anxiety, ergonomic, etc. Alternate forms of assessment may be warranted to ensure that students are tested in a way that accounts for that. That may mean that face-to-face invigilation with DALS is required.
Students requiring in-person supports
Description: A reader, scribe, interpreter, or mobility assistant
Considerations: This level of testing accommodation will need to be worked out on a case-by-case basis. A scribe or reader could also be utilized via BlueJeans, Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate or face-to-face invigilation with DALS.
Description: Numerous possibilities: voice input, screen readers, magnifiers, captioning, etc.
Considerations: Students will need to work with DALS on a case-by-case basis to determine functionality in the specific testing environment. Students who require adaptive software have usually received access through the Canada Student Grant.
Text to Speech
- MAC built-in is called “Voice Over” https://www.apple.com/accessibility/mac/vision/
- PC built-in is called “Natural Reader” https://www.naturalreaders.com/
- Kurzweil 3000 software is free for students during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Texthelp Read and Write also has free trial version.
- CAPER BC has extensive listing of free Screen Reading Software https://caperbc.ca/technology/screen-readers/
Voice Input Software
- Dragon Naturally Speaking https://www.nuance.com/dragon/dragon-for-pc/home-edition.html
- Google Document with Google Voice Typing allows for dictating directly into a word document
- Apple Dictation (iOS, macOS)
- Windows 10 Speech Recognition (Windows)
- Required on video content.
- BlueJeans has captioning (coming by August 2020) abilities with on-the-fly captioning of speech to text for any student who wishes to enable it. More details on website.
- NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access) (free, Windows)
- JAWS is the most common screen reader
- Window-Eyes (available free of charge for users with a validated Microsoft Office version 2010 or later)
- Magnifier for Windows (built-in)
Take Home Exams
Description: Where students are given more than a day to complete the exam.
Considerations: The accommodation of extended time does not typically apply to these cases. Students who believe that they would still require additional time will need to connect with DALS to review testing needs.
Other Possible Accommodations
- MS Word -with spell check or not penalized for spelling errors
- adjustable desk
- own device
- noise cancelling headphones
- white noise machine/music
- supportive chair
- ergonomic keyboard
- sensory reduced room
- food permitted
- enlarged font
Considerations: If the student does not have the necessary supports in place, they should contact DALS.
Proximity to Washroom
Description: Giving students close access to washroom during an exam.
Considerations: Instructor to set proctoring platform settings to lowest. If the exam is being invigilated, the student should send a private chat message informing the invigilator of “washroom break”. Given Individual student accommodation needs, it may also be necessary for specific exams to be invigilated by DALS either through video or face-to-face.
Description: Students having breaks during the exam.
Considerations: In general, students who need scheduled breaks would be afforded this time within their accommodation of ‘Extra Time.’ Given the complexity of disability impact and testing format, other considerations may also be warranted.
Multiple Scheduled Testing Sessions
Considerations: If the exam is presented in multiple, discrete sections, the instructor could ‘load’ the testing in separate sections for the student for separate sittings. If not feasible, an alternative evaluation may be needed.
If you have any questions about accommodating students with disabilities for a digital exam, please reach out at https://www.nic.bc.ca/student-services/accessible-learning-services/.