My name is Rajiv and I'm a biology major. I have severe Dyslexia, a learning disability that affects my reading and writing skills.
I receive testing accommodations (extended time and computer access) through the disability services office. My biology course exams include several essays. I requested to use a computer software program that highlights words while it reads them out loud for my exams as well as other reading and writing assignments. My biology professor was concerned that this or other software programs (like word prediction programs) might give me an unfair advantage.
The professor went to the disability services office to meet with me, the learning disabilities specialist, and the assistive technology specialist. We demonstrated the highlighting program in the assistive technology lab so he could see what it does and how it helps me. He agreed to allow me to use the highlighting software, but he did not want me to have access to any other software or assistive technology during exams. He also specified that the networking capabilities of the system be shut down so I could not access information on my home computer system or on the Internet. He was very concerned about cheating and academic dishonesty and wanted to be sure that I was monitored while taking exams. I took my exams for the course in the assistive technology lab, as agreed, with a test proctor in the room.
This case study illustrates the following:
- Computer access and software programs can accommodate students with disabilities in the test-taking process.
- When the student, professor, and specialists communicate and share concerns or resources, there are practical solutions to accommodating the student and meeting the instructor's requirements.
- It is sometimes helpful for the professor or teaching assistant to see the technology and meet the support service staff to gain understanding of technology solutions.