Adapting Assessments for Students with Visual Impairments

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

This lesson discusses some strategies for adapting assessments for students with visual impairments. You will learn about adaptations to traditional paper-based tests as well as some alternative assessments for students with visual impairments.

Adapting Assessments

As teachers, we often need to adapt lessons to help students with visual impairments gain equitable access to the curriculum. It's also important to make adaptations when designing assessments.

Let's take a look at these specific strategies you can use in your classroom to make adaptations to assessments for students with visual impairments.

  • Adapting test materials
  • Modifying assessment methods
  • Adapting the testing environment
  • Using supplementary tools

Adapting Test Materials

Students with limited vision may have trouble reading and responding to traditional paper-based tests. Here are some aspects of test design to consider when adapting assessment materials for students with visual impairments:

  • Large print
  • Wide line spacing
  • More spacing between words
  • Bold text
  • Tactile graphics
  • Simplified instructions and text
  • High contrast between text and background (e.g., black text and bright white paper)

Modifying Assessment Methods

If modified assessment materials are not sufficient to help your students with visual impairments, you can consider how to adapt the assessment methods.

Some students may benefit from having a teacher or instructional support staff read the test aloud and giving the student the option of oral responses. A scribe is a common accommodation that is often added to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). With a scribe, the student can orally produce his or her response to a short-answer or extended-response test question as the scribe writes it down word-for-word. If no teacher is available to record student responses, students could use a tape recorder for teachers to listen to at a later time.

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