Tests & Examinations


As a teacher, it is important to design tests that are accessible and minimise the need for additional student support. I.e. students should be able to access information and respond in multiple ways with an appropriate response time limit. In any case, it is advisable that educational institutions issue guidelines to create inclusive tests that consider the needs of diverse student groups.

When adaptations to the test are required then they should be made while maintaining the integrity of the content and structure. This is a difficult task which teachers have to approach as a continuous learning process. They should improve their examinations on the basis of students' feedback and experiences.


Key tips

Test creation
  1. Set the goals for the test.
  2. Find out what assistive technology students could use.
  3. Focus on designing a test in which the information can flow in multiple ways.
    • Avoid relying on single sensory features to get information. Provide:
      • text alternatives for all non-text elements,
      • extended descriptions to complex non-text elements, e.g. complex images, charts, maps, etc.,
      • transcriptions for audio content and
      • audio descriptions for video content and
      • do not use colour as the only form of conveying information.
    • Avoid single specific skills to use the test and provide answers. Avoid relying on only one of the following:
      • precise or complex mouse movements,
      • complex key combinations and
      • the need for clear spoken answers.
    • Set appropriate time constraints for answering.
  4. Keep inputs to students clear and concise.
    • Long pieces of text are difficult to handle on a screen.
    • Each problem or question should be fully displayed on a single screen.
    • Use graphics of sufficient quality so students can use magnifiers effectively.
    • Minimise the need for recalling previous steps when multiple screen questions cannot be avoided.
  5. Make it easy to navigate the test.
    • Let users know their location in the test at any time (E.g. Question 1/50).
    • Use meaningful titles in all pages.
    • Enable non-sequential navigation with the use of headings.
    • Allow users to use the search functionality.
Student inputs
  1. Make all interactive elements in the test accessible.
    • Use meaningful text in links.
    • The alternative text of non-text interactive elements should provide information about the result of the actions.
    • Students should be made aware of invalid inputs as soon as possible. Eg. the student is expected to enter a date with a certain format. If the input then does not match the format, the student should be warned immediately.
    • The submission procedures should allow students to review, correct and submit their final answers.
  2. Accessible answering mechanism.
    • Alternative input modalities.
      • Eg. enable voice input.
    • Text based.
      • Students who don’t use a keyboard may face additional difficulties. They might need additional time.
    • Multiple choice.
      • Students that use a screen reader may not be able to skim and read the entries randomly in an order they prefer, fitting their response strategy. They may instead be forced to remember what was read-out-loud or read through the Braille device before.
      • Low-vision students may not be able to skim the entries either. They may need to do numerous rereads.
      • Students using only a keyboard may need additional time to answer because navigation may not be as fast for them as it is for those with pointing devices in some cases.
    • Grouping, ordering and labelling.
      • Although Drag-and-drop can be implemented accessibly, it should be avoided as it frequently causes throubles among students and teachers (it may not be a reliable input method for e.g. students with reduced dexterity or vision).
      • It is better to use drop down lists, radio buttons and click to select as most ATs work fine with them and ATs users are familiar with them.
    • Interactive.
      • Avoid overly-complex answers.
    • The test should be compatible with the assistive technology with which the student is already familiar.
      • If the proficiency in using the assistive technology itself is not the goal of the test, then the disadvantages imposed on students who need to use them should be removed or set to a minimum.
    • It might be necessary to provide a braille version of the test.
      • Braille-literate students may perform better and on more equal footing  to their peers when they have a physical version of the test.
    • Clearly state whether note taking is allowed.
    • It might be advisable to allow some students to use paper and pencil for sketching to overcome some disadvantages. The use of these elemental tools can lower the mental overload.
    • The delivery system.
      • Mind the accessibility of the delivery system, commonly a LMS, which is being used to distribute the test to the students.
    • The setting.
      • Mind the user needs and the required assistive technologies that need to be available to take the exam.
      • If the exam is not the usual learning environment for the student, then physical accessibility and assistive technology readiness of the examination place should be assessed carefully.
    Follow up
    • Provide the correct answers.
      • Many students learn from their mistakes. This is a principle of learning that should not be overlooked because learners with disabilities benefit greatly from it.
      • Make sure the correction is also accessible to the student. E.g. avoid sending scans of corrections made by pen. The student may have a print disability and therefore it would be useless for him/her.