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Testing accommodations:  Time-and-a-half

Also see:  Accommodating disabled students in the ASL classroom

A parent writes:

Dear Teacher,
Because my son / daughter / child is disabled he/she/they get assignment and testing accommodations consisting of time-and-a-half.
Thank you for your consideration.
John Q. Parent

Response from Dr. Bill:

Dear Mr. Parent,
The nice thing about an online course that is open entry, open exit, and has open quizzes -- is that "time-and-a-half" is increased to "infinite" time.  Your child can take "forever" if he / she / they wish. Your child will pass the class when he / she / they successfully completes the  assignments and testing.

As a person who has lived with a "life-long" disability, the spouse of someone with a life-long disability, the father of a child with a disability, and a former ADA advisor (from my time at Easter Seals) -- I will gently suggest to you that having a disability and being eligible for accommodations doesn't always preclude a school from testing specific skills in a timely manner.

For example, suppose a school is testing students to see if they can interpret a signed message at a pace (speed) sufficient to keep up with a typical signer (as would be common in an interpreter preparation program -- preparing interpreters to take the national interpreter certification exam). The school doing the testing doesn't have to slow down the signing of the test to "time-and-a-half." This is because the ability to interpret at a certain speed is fundamental to the testing. Speed, in this case, is one of the specific skills being tested that are fundamental to the learning outcomes of an interpreter preparation program.

How does this law work in regard to foreign language requirements? Sometimes the reasonable (appropriate) accommodation isn't to slow down the testing of the target skill but rather to provide a different but analogous learning goal.  Instead of becoming an unsuccessful interpreter a student could perhaps train to become a successful cultural anthropologist or sociologist and actually become employed and earn money upon graduation. Don't misunderstand me. I'm ALL FOR accommodating disabled students -- it just needs to be a reasonable accommodation -- and preferably from a long term perspective.

If an education institution sets up a "second language requirement" and a student's disability precludes them from learning to understand a language spoken at a "reasonable" pace -- the "reasonable" accommodation isn't to alter the fundamental nature of the language class but rather to accommodate the student by allowing the student to take a "culture class" instead and accept that class in place of the required "language class." This saves students from wasting their time and money studying language for 5 years only to find out that they are not able to pass the national certification exam. (Oops.)  The ADA can't force national testing exams to give a competency certificate to a person who in fact never achieved competency in the tested skill.

It is likely that the guidelines allow schools to actually test certain skills (after having made "reasonable" accommodations to mitigate the impact of a testee's disability) in order to protect society.  For example, allowing schools to test for specific skills protects swimmers from drowning due to lifeguards who needed time-and-a-half, people from burning to death from fires not put out by firefighters who needed time-and-a-half, surgery patients from bleeding out on the operating table from surgeons who needed time-and-a-half, and Deaf clients from missing the message due to an interpreter who needed time and-a-half.

See below for a cut and paste of the specific law.
Dr. Bill Vicars

"Under Section 309 of the ADA, any person (including both public and private entities) that offers examinations related to applications, licensing, certification, or credentialing for secondary or postsecondary education, professional, or trade purposes must offer such examinations "in a place and manner accessible to persons with disabilities or offer alternative accessible arrangements for such individuals." 42 U.S.C. § 12189. Under regulations implementing this ADA provision, any private entity that offers such examinations must "assure that the examination is selected and administered so as to best ensure that, when the examination is administered to an individual with a disability that impairs sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the examination results accurately reflect the individual´s aptitude or achievement level or whatever other factor the examination purports to measure, rather than reflecting the individual´s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (except where those skills are the factors that the examination purports to measure)." 28 C.F.R. § 36.309. Likewise, under regulations implementing title II of the ADA, public entities offering examinations must ensure that their exams do not provide qualified persons with disabilities with aids, benefits, or services that are not as effective in affording equal opportunity to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement as that provided to others, 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(1)(iii), and may not administer a licensing or certification program in a manner that subjects qualified individuals with disabilities to discrimination on the basis of disability. 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(6). Both the title II and title III regulations also require public and private testing entities to provide modifications and auxiliary aids and services for individuals with disabilities unless the entity can demonstrate an applicable defense. 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.130(b)(7), 35.160(b), 35.164; 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.309(b)(1)(iv-vi), (b)(2), 36.309(b)(3)."

(Source: )




Also see:  Accommodating disabled students in the ASL classroom

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