Removing barriers to access for disabled students
Disabled students have difficulty completing various forms of assessment to the best of their ability without some kind of intervention or alteration to the assessment implementation.
For example, the most widely used alteration at present is to allow dyslexic students extra time in examinations. This is because they generally:
- have slower reading and writing speeds than other students,
- have difficulty structuring clear sentences, paragraphs and essays,
- have difficulties with short term memory recall.
My reading speed is a) slow, b) then I interpret it wrong and c) I panic as well.
Saptal, 3rd year, BSc, Quality Management
If examinations are seeking to assess how well students know their subject knowledge and not how well one copes with a timed, speed of writing test it is unfair for this group of students not to be given extra time so that they can relay the same amount of information as their peers.
In order for disabled students to complete assessment to the best of their ability attempts have been made to 'level the playing field'. Until recently this was generally only attempted at the point of assessment and assessments were altered as and when required or requested by the students. However, this can lead to problems when organising resources and places the emphasis on the individual student rather than the institution's responsibility under legislation such as the SENDA (2001). Proactive approaches to the problems encountered by disabled students especially the idea of inclusive design are now being suggested as the way forward for course designers.
Want to learn more? Read this:
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001).