By Megan Friedman
STOP the College Board From Denying Dyslexics Screen Readers on SAT or AP Course Tests is the bold headline Robbi Cooper, member of Decoding Dyslexia Texas and mother of a high school student with dyslexia, chose for her change.org petition, which currently has 2,804 signatures.
On her petition page Robbi Cooper asks, “Did you know that Screen Readers are an available option when you take the SAT or AP courses for those with Print Disabilities including Dyslexia?” I, for one, did not.
In our Fall 2013 edition of Perspectives on Language and Learning – Technology and Dyslexia: Part 1, Karen Erickson discusses Assistive Technology (AT) stating: “It is well understood that dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin and characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and decoding abilities. AT, specifically text-to-speech with electronic text, has long been recognized as an important reading solution for students with dyslexia (see, e.g., Abelson &Petersen, 1983; Anderson-Inman et al., 1990), and as technology has become ubiquitous, text-to-speech solutions are becoming commonplace.”
Cooper’s son’s daily use of a screen reader at his public school is well documented, but it didn’t help his case when applying for accommodations with College Board for his AP and SAT exams. “Instead, the College Board decided that giving him 50% extra time would effectively accommodate his disability.” Cooper and her son disagree. “A screen reader does nothing more than ensure effective access to text, something that extra time alone does not. Screen reader use should be the choice of the individual with a disability, not at the discretion of the College Board. ” If you have been denied or didn’t know a screen reader was an option of accommodation and would like to submit a request, visit the College Board Seeing and Reading Accommodations website.
Cooper goes on to say, “if a student with a print disability feels that a screen reader will allow them to best ensure their knowledge is tested, that should be enough. A checked box to request this common accommodation should be all that is necessary to use it on tests or courses.”
For now, the process to getting screen reader accommodations for any College Board exams is a lengthier, more expensive, and not-guaranteed process.
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Want to learn more about Assistive Technology? Check out any of our Dr.Dave’s AT Lab features written by Dr. David Winters.
To read Part 2 of our Perspectives on Language and Learning, Technology and Dyslexia series, click here.
Megan Friedman is the Publications/Communications Coordinator at the International Dyslexia Association Home Office.
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