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Visual Impairments

To take College Board exams with accommodations, students with visual 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 specific visual impairment as diagnosed. The diagnosis should be made by someone with appropriate professional credentials, should be a clear and specific statement of visual disability 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 visual impairment, the evaluation and diagnostic testing should be no more than two years old.

History Presented

Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history in support of the diagnosis and the functional limitation. Information about the student’s history of receiving school accommodations and current use of accommodations helps the College Board understand the nature and severity of the student’s visual disability and the need for accommodations.

Include the following details:

  • Date of onset of the visual impairment
  • Present symptoms
  • Eye examination results that meet the criteria for the diagnosis of a visual disability
  • Use of corrective lenses, visual therapy, or any other interventions
  • Student's response to the interventions

Teacher observations are often helpful as well; they may be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form (.pdf/240KB).

Diagnosis Supported

For all visual impairments other than blindness, provide eye examination records from a current evaluation. Include all measurements, data, visual fields, and visual acuity for each eye, with and without correction, if used.  

If the diagnosis is based on a visual motor dysfunction, also include phorias, fusional ranges, depth perception, and visual accommodation measurements. 

For blindness, no visual measurements are needed. Include a statement of blindness from the student’s school or doctor. In some cases, documentation supporting the need for a requested accommodation is required.

Functional Limitation Described

Explain how the visual impairment impacts the student’s daily functioning and ability to participate in College Board exams. For example, is the student able to read the test and complete an answer sheet? Does the student work more slowly than other students? 

Functional limitation can be documented with the following:

  • The visual measurements listed above.
  • Summary of the student's developmental, educational, and 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 visual disability; documentation must show why the student currently needs each requested accommodation. The reason for requesting a particular accommodation is not always evident from the diagnosis. Review the documentation requirements specific to all requested accommodations in Accommodation Documentation Guidelines

Be sure your rationale for each specific accommodation focuses on the following:

  • Connection between the student’s diagnosed disability and the requested accommodations
  • Current needs of the student
  • Reasons requested accommodations are needed on the College Board’s standardized exams, which are primarily written

Be sure to request every specific accommodation the student will need. Keep these important points in mind:

  • Students requesting Braille text might also need to request extended time, a means of recording answers (e.g., scribe), assistive technology, and a special calculator. Each of these would need to be requested specifically.
  • Approval to use a computer is not approval to use assistive technology. Students wishing to use screen readers, for example, must request both the use of a computer and the use of a screen reader, specifying the software by name and version.
  • If assistive technology is being requested for reading a test book (e.g., a screen reader), the student should also be sure to request the assistive technology-compatible test form.
  • When two or more requested accommodations serve the same purpose (e.g., Braille text and MP3 audio), a rationale showing why they are all needed must be provided. 

Professional Credentials Listed

Establish the evaluator’s professional credentials. Evaluators must be authorized by the state in which they practice to administer the necessary tests and to diagnose visual impairments.

Most visual disabilities are diagnosed by ophthalmologists or optometrists. 

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