Instead of traveling to the Disability Services testing center on-campus or taking exams in a traditional classroom environment, many of my professors and professional certification exams provide students with remote testing options that allow them to take exams from home with their own technology. My remote testing accommodations for low vision are very similar to my in-person testing accommodations that include items such as extended time and large print, but there have been situations where I have had to submit separate testing accommodations for remote testing or add additional accommodations that I don’t normally use in-person. Here are the remote testing accommodations for low vision that I use frequently in the classroom and for other certification exams.
Some testing programs restrict the user’s ability to use keyboard shortcuts such as the page zoom feature, which can be frustrating for students that rely on this feature to enlarge text in exams. Another frustrating feature I’ve come across in a popular proctoring software is that zooming in on the text also zooms in on other display items and causes the text to become gradually smaller as it is masked by the larger display items. Professors and proctors should ensure that text can be magnified during an exam using keyboard shortcuts or with the browser.
For remote exams, test takers will need to get approval for the use of assistive technology such as a screen reader or screen magnification software, as these are considered background applications. I did not have to document any specific settings such as 225% magnification, as I was the one setting up the assistive technology on my own. Some testing accommodations may require test takers to provide the name of the software they will be using, i.e. Windows Magnifier or JAWS.
When I sat for a technical certification exam, I was surprised to learn that my prescription tinted glasses were not permitted to be worn during the exam, because the proctors and proctoring software were unable to see my eyes or track their movement. After explaining that I wear tinted glasses for photosensitivity, I was able to get an approved accommodation to wear my glasses during the exam, but from that day on I’ve had to list “use of prescription tinted glasses” when requesting accommodations for exams or virtual classes in general. My tinted glasses are different than traditional sunglasses as they are not polarized lenses- I can see screens without having the darker tint distort the display.
Trying to read low-resolution graphics or images can be incredibly frustrating or completely impossible, so I request high-resolution copies of graphics/images that I can open in a new tab or program and zoom in on for easier viewing. Another option is to get approval for a visual interpreter to describe images in real time, or to provide alt text/image descriptions so that information can be accessed in a nonvisual way.
Remember the proctoring software I mentioned that enlarged everything but the text of the exam? I talked to my professor and college assistive technology specialist to come up with an alternative proctoring option that allowed me to enlarge text, which involved my professor creating a separate password-protected version of the exam and I recorded/streamed my screen for the entirety of the exam. Other alternative proctoring strategies my professors have used include:
When I was taking calculus, I found it easier to complete assignments and exams on my tablet with a stylus compared to the computer, because I was able to position my tablet at a more natural angle underneath my bifocal lenses and could use the more natural pinch-to-zoom gesture for enlarging graphs. I received approval from my professor and Disability Services to use my tablet instead of a laptop for exams, and would have the video proctoring service open on my computer while filling out the exam on my tablet. My professor did not have me use Guided Access to restrict my viewing angle to one application since I also had to use a calculator application and couldn’t have two apps open in full screen at the same time if Guided Access was on.
By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com
Updated October 2023; original post published October 2018.
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