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Hearing Impairments

To take College Board exams with accommodations, students with hearing impairments must request accommodations from the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD).

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Accommodation requests must be documented. Make sure your documentation meets these seven criteria:

Diagnosis Clearly Stated

Documentation should state the hearing impairment as diagnosed. The diagnosis should be made by someone with appropriate professional credentials, should include a clear and specific statement of deafness or hearing loss and, when appropriate, should relate the disability to professional standards.

Information Current

Because disabilities change over time, documentation must be up to date. In most cases of hearing impairment, the evaluation and diagnostic testing should be no more than two years old.

History Presented

Information about the onset and etiology of the hearing impairment, the student’s history of receiving school accommodations, and the student’s current use of accommodations helps the College Board understand the nature and severity of the student’s disability and the need for accommodations. Teacher observations are often helpful. This information can be provided on the Teacher Survey Form (.pdf/240KB).

Diagnosis Supported

Documentation supporting hearing impairment should describe the comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the diagnosis. Include the following:

  • Current audiogram.
  • A summary of the assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis.
  • A narrative summary of the evaluation results.
  • Medical information relating to the student's needs and the status of his/her hearing (static or changing) and its functional impact on the student's academic learning.
  • A statement regarding the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants (if applicable).
  • Evidence of difficulty testing under timed conditions, if requesting extended time. See Extended Time and Common Diagnostic Tests for more detail.

Functional Limitation Described

Explain how the hearing impairment impacts the student’s daily functioning and ability to participate in College Board exams. For example, does the student work more slowly than other students, have difficulty reading, or need assistance with oral instructions?

Functional limitation can be documented in a variety of ways:

  • Speech and language or auditory processing evaluations.
  • Psychoeducational evaluations, including both test scores and narrative.
  • Standardized test scores, including standard and scaled scores. Use national norms to support both the diagnosis and functional limitation.
  • Summary of the student's developmental, educational, and/or medical history.
  • Teacher observations. You may want to use the Teacher Survey Form (.pdf/240KB).

Recommended Accommodations Justified

It’s not enough to say that a student has a hearing impairment; documentation must show why the student needs the requested accommodations. Some students who receive accommodations in school may not require accommodations on College Board exams.

Most College Board exams are written tests administered in a quiet environment. Oral instructions are usually presented before testing starts. The needs of many students can be met with a copy of written instructions or preferential seating. These accommodations can be requested. If a sign language interpreter is requested, documentation should explain why a written copy of oral instructions is insufficient.

Be sure your rationale for specific accommodations focuses on the following:

  • Connection between the student’s diagnosed hearing impairment and the requested accommodations
  • Current needs of the student
  • Reasons requested accommodations are needed on the College Board’s standardized exams

Students requesting extended time should document difficulty taking timed tasks, include the amount of extended time required or the maximum amount of time the student can be tested in a day, and include current scores on timed and untimed/extended time tests. 

See Accommodation Documentation Guidelines for documentation requirements specific to extended time, computer use, and other typical accommodations.

Professional Credentials Listed

Establish the evaluator’s professional credentials. Medical doctors, including otorhinolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists) and otologists (ear specialists), are qualified to provide diagnosis of hearing disorders in support of accommodation requests. It may also be useful to supply a current audiogram performed by an audiologist.

All evaluators must be authorized by the state in which they practice to administer the necessary tests and to diagnose hearing impairments.

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Who Is Eligible?

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