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FAQs regarding Assessments/Exam Accommodations for students registered with the Disability Support Service.
If a student is scheduled to take their exams on-campus, how are their exam accommodations provided?
The Disability Support Service liaises with the exams office to ensure students registered with DSS have their recommended exam accommodations applied for on-campus exams.
If a student is scheduled to take their exams remotely/online, how are their exam accommodations provided?
If a module is being assessed through remote/online exam organised by the Module Leader, then the Module Leader puts relevant exam accommodations in place. Students should let their lecturers know that relevant exam accommodations are required. Lecturers can also request that students let them know if they are registered with the Disability Support Service and have a LENS Report.
Can students avail of recommended supports for alternative assessments?
Students registered with the Disability Support Service (DSS) who have been granted reasonable accommodations for exams will still receive recommended supports appropriate to the assessment. In general, these supports will apply to timed assessments. However, as some students with disabilities may struggle to complete a large number of assignments/assessments in the relatively short space of time allocated for the alternative assessments, flexibility may be required in certain cases.
Will students still receive an SLD sticker/marking guidelines?
SLD sticker/marking guidelines generally only apply to timed assessments, not to assignments where students have a few days or weeks to complete the assessment. SLD sticker/marking guidelines should be applied in timed assessments (even if typed) and students should not be expected to use their limited time in such assessments to check spellings - standard software often does not pick up on spelling errors for students with a specific learning difficulty/dyslexia.
Do SLD sticker/marking guidelines apply to any other forms of assessment?
Students registered with the DSS have been supplied with Grammarly and Texthelp to assist with spelling and grammar for take-home essays and/or assignments. If students with a specific learning difficulty have a lot of take-home written assignments, they may plausibly argue that they are disadvantaged relative to others if being held to the same standards of spelling, grammar or structure of written work; so some flexibility with marking, or deadline extensions, may be required here (on a case-by-case basis).
Should students receive extra time for exams/alternatives to exams if it is a recommended reasonable accommodation on their LENS report ?
Students sitting timed assessments should be granted additional time if recommended on their LENS report, usually an additional ten minutes per hour. Please be aware that students availing of extra time will still be sitting their assessment even though other students may have finished, therefore exam conditions should continue for the full duration of assessment. Also, consideration to privacy should be given since a student may not have disclosed their entitlement to extra time to the rest of the class.
Does extra time apply to untimed assessments?
In general, if students have a few weeks to complete take-home assessments, this should be sufficient and additional time will not need to be automatically allocated. However, students with accessibility requirements may still need extra time - for example, students with visual impairments who may require materials in an alternative format; or students who depend on screen reading software, or other accommodations to complete their work. As a result, some flexibility with respect to deadlines may be required due to impact of disability – students should liaise directly with module leaders on this as every situation will be different.
Can I simply extend the overall time of the assessment rather than assigning extra time to specific students?
No. Students who have been recommended extra time as a reasonable accommodation in their LENS report should receive that time over and above the allocated time for the timed assessment. This is to ensure that the student is receiving their reasonable accommodation. If providing extra time is an issue, you should consider an untimed exam as an alternative solution.
Will students be able to use Texthelp as a reader when taking an online (off-campus) exam?
Students who rely on TextHelp as a reader in exams should already have been issued a version for home use (by DSS) - the only time this would not apply is where a student doesn't have their own laptop. Students can either access the free trial available from https://www.texthelp.com/ or students can be directed to download Texthelp from the ISS Webpage: http://www.nuigalway.ie/information-solutions-services/servicesforstaff/software/softwarelist/software-accessibility/texthelpreadandwritegold/ and refer back to our Assistive Technology Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional advice if needed.
I have a student who uses a scribe as one of the reasonable accommodations on their LENS report. Can this student still avail of a scribe for their timed assessment?
If a student normally uses a scribe for their exam they should be offered significantly more time in the online timed assessment so that they can use assistive technology instead of a scribe. Assistive technology options include using screen reading software to access the questions and/or Dragon Nationally Speaking software to type the answers. This may also involve the student having to describe graphs/diagrams instead of drawing them. In some cases it may be necessary to offer an alternative form of assessment such as an essay or assignment. If a student requires any assistive technology, or training in the use of software, they should be referred to their Disability Advisor or our Assistive Technology Officer (email@example.com)
Can a household member act as a reader/scribe for a student who would usually receive these supports for university examinations?
The Disability Support Service recommends the use of assistive technology, or an alternative form of assessment, instead of a household member acting as either reader or scribe for students.
If a student with a disability reports that they are struggling with all the new technological demands required in the current situation what can I do?
Students should be referred to the Disability Support Service for advice and training with assistive technology options. Students can contact their Disability Advisor (as detailed on the student’s LENS report) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I need to contact the disability support service for advice, or to seek clarification, who should I contact?
Staff can contact the student’s Disability Advisor (as detailed on the student’s LENS report), or email email@example.com if the Disability Advisor is on annual leave.