Reply To: Read aloud accommodation

Elizabeth Hamblet

Hi, awtay. I understand your son’s and your frustration.

Let me start by saying that this is neither legal nor medical advice. Let me also say that my area of experience in college disability services, and that that is what I’m applying here.

I know that at the college level, students taking their tests outside of the classroom setting must have the same access to the professor and to any materials that their classmates have in the classroom setting. So if students who are taking the exam with the professor have a chance to ask questions, test proctors working with students with disabilities should be able to text the professor with those students’ questions. If there are things on the wall that are helpful to the students taking the test (that sounds a little unusual to me, but maybe I misunderstood your post), then your son should have access to copies of that information. On the flip side, if professors refuse to answer questions for anyone during exams (I have not heard about this at the university where I work but have heard stories from colleagues in the field), they are not required to answer any questions for students with disabilities taking exams outside the classroom, either.

What it comes down to is this – a student shouldn’t have to give up the same “access” (both to the professor or to any materials that are present) that him classmates have in order to use his accommodations. I imagine that this has to be true in K-12, but it is not my area, and you should definitely talk to his case manager about this (and if it’s a guidance counselor who isn’t sure, ask the head of the special education department how they do things for students on IEPs who take their exams out of the classroom).

I like ADHD Momma’s suggestion about having him use headphones in the classroom (I realize that that may make him self-conscious). I would caution you that oral tests can be tricky, as he is unlikely to receive that accommodation at college (if that is his goal after high school). Instead, he could get more time for exams and/or permission to use a laptop to better-organize his thoughts. (These are common college accommodations.)

I wanted to say that I was impressed to read that he is using Read Aloud for his exams. If you think it would help, you can tell him that that is very forward-thinking and will prepare him well for college and/or the workplace. At the college level, we are using technology rather than human readers, so he’s likely to be much better-prepared for the transition than his classmates who will be using that technology for the first time.

And to address your concern about services in the future – I can’t speak to the SAT and ACT (not my area), but not using accommodations in high school shouldn’t automatically disqualify him from receiving accommodations at college. I wrote about this on my site: I hope that you will find it helpful.