STOP the College Board From Denying Dyslexics Screen Readers on SAT or AP Course Tests
This petition had 3,832 supporters
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? My son uses a screen reader daily in his public school and his use is well documented, but he was denied the use of a screen reader on College Board Products including AP and SAT tests. Instead the College Board decided that giving him 50% extra time would effectively accommodate his disability, despite his documentation stating his needed and ongoing use of screen readers in all courses. In fact he would rather not have extra time for any reading on their tests, he does need a screen reader.
Screen readers do not make you smarter, they do not change the information presented nor give the user any more information than their non disabled peers. 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.
Did you know the Accommodations Request and Documentation Must Be Received by August 12th, 2016 for the SAT and Subject Tests to be eligible by October 1st Testing Dates?
We have reached out to the US Department of Justice on systemic issues surrounding denied use of Screen Readers on College Board products. Please join us in pressing for change:
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If you have been denied or did not even know Screen Reader was an option, Go Back and request it if needed. This is the page link under Seeing And Reading Accommodations https://www.collegeboard.org/students-with-disabilities/documentation-guidelines/reading-seeing-accommodations
It is our feeling that the process to get approved for accommodations by the College Board is overly subjective, not even handedly applied and worse it is extremely expensive and time consuming, limiting millions by forcing them to provide layers of information to get this accommodation request approved. Worse yet, the air of exclusivity in Screen Reader approval, casts a shadow on those that use it as being different and those that don’t get approval as not worthy. It’s exclusive approval also limits people from even applying for it’s use at all or even daring to take AP courses or the SAT test. If people are being told it is a long shot to get screen reader approval or don’t even know they can ask for this accommodation at all, and they use this daily, why even apply. If they are told of the excessive documents needed and the costs to get documentation to have this accommodation considered and that few receive it...There are those that give up not only on the accommodation request but on taking certain courses they may excel in forcing them to give up on their future goals.
If students with a disability use accommodations such as - a screen reader, examples Bookshare, Learning Ally, Don Johnson products, Kurzweil Products, KNFB readers for example to access course demands or to effectively participate in courses, that alone should determine screen reader use on College Board products.
Further, 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.
We have heard time and time again that documentation was submitted showing screen reader or text to speech use by a student and this accommodation was still initially denied.
1. Sometimes a follow up call by an advocate to the College Board on behalf of the student discussing where in the submitted documentation the use is shown was enough to change the denial. - a common insurance scam, deny until challenged.
2. Sometimes families are forced to send in additional documentation and families are forced to pay for additional testing - a common insurance scam, deny until they give up or can’t afford the documentation.
3. Sometimes you request one accommodation and the College Board Denies it but gives you extra time in it’s place. - Bait and Switch!
4. People give up and take what they are offered. Students may not reach their full potential on tests and be happy they just passed.
5. Many deserving students are not even made aware to request this accommodation because it is known to be highly restricted, potentially expensive requiring onerous documentation and thus not promoted at their schools or through school councilors offices.
6. Some students and families give up and take the rejection of the use at face value and give up the right to use the screen reading accommodations passed any initial rejection.
When the goal of the SAT or AP course is to measure acquired knowledge and is used to ADVANTAGE those with higher scores in their acceptance into higher education, whether through weighted GPA, the perk of listing AP courses on transcripts or SAT scores used in college acceptance decisions, denying or restricting use of a Screen Readers is restricting millions of qualified individuals with print disabilities from the same opportunities and honors to show their knowledge and take challenging courses as others. - and for those that don't think screen readers are allowed in college, they are and they are routinely used!
Additionally, this policy of restrictive use creates an air of invalidity or as if somehow when a student is using a screen reader to acquire or display knowledge that their efforts are not as valid as others. Restricting use creates a cycle of shame, marginalizes students with disabilities effort, and perpetuates stereotypes that students who interface with text differently are somehow less intelligent or less capable than others.
The current policy of the College Board goes beyond restrictive use of screen readers on their tests, it casts a shadow on students with disabilities in general education environments, it's trickle down effect restricts opportunities, imposed barriers, perpetuates harmful stereotypes and discourages many students with print disabilities from daring to participate with college board products at all. It also frustrates many teachers who see the dysfunction first hand and are unable to do anything to help.
Disability is only as limiting as our society allows it to be. Screen Reader use on College Board products should be this simple and prominently advertised:
Screen Reader Needed: CHECK
That should be all the information necessary for approval. No FERPA disclosures, no further private or expensive testing to obtain, no further information disclosed beyond what non disabled students have to submit when they register for College Board products. The individual with a disability should have the power to chart their own course and choose how they best interface with their learning, the use of technology like screen readers should be their decision.
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