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What is Inclusivity by Design and Why Is It Important in Assessments
If every student is unique, why should assessments be one-size-fits-all? When assessment software is designed to be inclusive, it is built to accommodate the varying needs of all learners to ensure every student has the chance to thrive. Many individuals have special needs that require content to be altered, accommodated, or displayed in a way that optimizes their ability to succeed.
Inclusion has always been crucial to assessment, but with digital assessment management platforms, the testing process is more inclusive than ever. Digital assessments allow for built-in accommodations and personalized testing experiences. A study published in the Journal of Technology even highlights that when designed with inclusivity, students have significantly increased test scores on computer-based assessments when compared to traditional paper and pencil testing. The same study also reveals that most students prefer the computer-based testing experience (Robert et. al). Using a high-quality digital assessment software that is inclusive by design empowers all students to unlock their potential.
How Can Online Assessment Software Increase Inclusivity by Design?
Breakthroughs in digital assessment software have helped to ensure that all students have access to a personalized, optimized, and accommodating assessment experience. Here are some characteristics of assessment management platforms that are inclusive by design.
Custom Student Profiles
While many assessment platforms still need to implement features to support students with special needs, SwiftAssess has already developed the needed modules for students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, autism, deafness, blindness, color blindness, epilepsy, and other special needs allowing them to have a student disability profile as well as a custom assessment profile. This profile recognizes and documents any special needs a student has, and any accommodations required. With this feature, optimized and inclusive test delivery will match the student’s needs every time a test is administered. Even if an examiner has not corrected a test’s setting to make it accommodate, the software will automatically optimize delivery for that examinee. For example, if a student with impaired vision requires enlarged text on exams, the profile will apply that accommodation every time.
Accessibility Scoring Feature
Educators have a lot on their plates. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes educators may miss opportunities to optimize the inclusivity of an assessment. Additionally, they may not be familiar with all an assessment platform’s accessibility features when creating a test. This is why the accessibility scoring feature of digital assessment platforms is so powerful and important! After creating an assessment, educators will automatically receive an accessibility score report. Educators will be alerted of any problems or incompatibilities for test inclusivity including test items that are not fit for their students with special needs. In addition to identifying non-inclusive test items, the software will also provide alternative ways of presenting the question to ensure an inclusive and accommodating exam.
Accommodations And Features Compliant With Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
A truly inclusive digital assessment platform will follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Here are a few of the features that allow platforms to be inclusive by design and accessible to all.
- Extra Time: Educators can customize the amount of time given to students to complete an assessment.
- Adjusting Color Scheme: Educators can adjust the color scheme of assessments to increase readability and accessibility.
- Controlling Question Fonts: The font of assessments can be changed to ensure that questions are easy to read and clear to understand.
- Magnification: When taking an assessment, users can zoom in on and magnify images or text. This ensures that difficulty seeing a test item does not negatively impact a test score.
- Multi-Lingual Interface: Assessment platforms can be inclusive of students from all backgrounds with varying languages by offering multi-lingual interfaces.
- Audio and Video Transcripts: Audio and video transcripts are available for in-test items to aide students with hearing impairments or difficulty processing auditory information.
- Speech to Text and Text to Speech: With speech to text, examinees can answer questions verbally and have their answers recorded. With text to speech, users can have written parts of the test read out loud.
How Can Schools And Institutions Support Their Educators In increasing Inclusivity
For all the reasons listed above, digital assessment platforms can be monumental in creating an inclusive learning environment. However, as with all technology, it is important to ensure that educators are properly trained in inclusivity. Educational stakeholders should hold workshops, trainings, or professional development sessions that focus on inclusivity by design.
First and foremost, educators need to understand the why behind inclusivity. Why is it so important? Why does it matter? Emphasize the value and the legality behind ensuring every child has equal access to a quality education regardless of their varying needs. Every student deserves to have their needs met to thrive; inclusivity should be a daily practice that empowers students to be their best selves. Once educators understand the why, its time to focus on how. School leaders can hold trainings that provide ways to make classrooms a more inclusive place. If the district has access to software such as a digital assessment platform, they should highlight and demonstrate the accessibility features to raise awareness and increase implementation. When using educational technology, don’t be afraid to reach out to the software’s team as well. Often times, companies can provide resources and even hold their own trainings to familiarize educators with best practices in inclusive learning.
Increasing Inclusivity by Design
As technology advances, research reveals that computer-based testing may be the best way to increase inclusivity and academic performance on assessments. Through custom student profiles, accessibility scoring reports, and adaptive testing features, digital assessment software can increase inclusivity and offer every student a chance to excel.
If your institution is looking for a comprehensive digital assessment software that is designed to be inclusive, SwiftAssess is an incredible choice. To learn more about SwiftAssess and its accessibility features, contact a team member here.
(WAI), W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 Level AA Conformance.” Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG2AA-Conformance.
Dolan, Robert, et al. “Applying Principles of Universal Design to Test Delivery: The Effect of Computer-Based Read-Aloud on Test Performance of High School Students with Learning Disabilities.” The Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, ejournals.bc.edu/index.php/jtla/article/view/1660.