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Understanding Assessment Accessibility

Within education, accessibility for all is crucial. Consideration must be given to the wide range of needs and challenges some students may face. Assessment is no exception. Exams are built on the fundamental principle of fairness. All candidates should expect equal opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities regardless of background or circumstance.

However, not all candidates are the same, some individuals face unique challenges that make it harder for them to participate in an assessment in its original format. Therefore, to be truly fair, exams must present an inclusive and accessible environment.

This means considering the design and implementation of features that enable individuals with disabilities or additional needs to access and participate in assessments on an equal basis with others.

Challenges in Traditional Assessment Methods

Traditional pen-and-paper exams can pose significant barriers for individuals with additional needs. Inaccessible exam halls, complex layouts, small font sizes, and reliance on written instructions all provide examples of situations which could hinder the ability of students with diverse needs to effectively engage with the assessment. Furthermore, the lack of customisable accommodations limits the flexibility needed to support learners with varying abilities.

Historically, this led to an uneven playing field for some candidates. Fortunately, with the development of technology and online exams, it’s becoming much easier to incorporate accessibility options and ensure all candidates are given the same opportunities.

The Inclusive Advantage of Online Exams

Compared to traditional exams, online exams have the potential to offer more accommodations, for example, it’s possible to deliver exams remotely so that candidates with mobility issues can take their exams in a location that is suitable for them. Allowing for a much more inclusive environment compared with a paper exam held in an exam hall.

With online exams, it’s easy to add additional time for selected candidates, even at very short notice. Plus, if an exam is being run remotely there’s no need to organise multiple rooms to accommodate people with extra time. It’s also possible to allow onscreen timers. Having a visual reminder of remaining time is beneficial in assisting with effective time management.

The benefits don’t end there. With online exam software, accessibility is considered part of the design and built-in from the start.

Speedwell Accessibility Features and Commitment

At Speedwell, we’re committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and applying the relevant accessibility standards. Our eSystem is fully conformant with WCAG 2.1 level A and AA. This means we comply with the accessibility standard without any exceptions.

In practice, this means that candidates have access to a range of accessibility settings to assist them when taking an exam.

This includes the option to adjust the font size and change the screen theme. We have several themes available from Light, Dark, Light/Dark Blue, Black/Yellow and Beige/Blue, so candidates can choose the theme that best works for them.

These can be accessed via the cog on the top right hand of the screen or via keyboard shortcuts, adding an additional layer of flexibility. Furthermore, keyboard navigation means that it’s possible to navigate through the assessment solely using the keyboard.

If an exam includes images, we offer options to enlarge, zoom in, and pan around the image, providing more adaptability than static images in paper exams.

Along with these inbuilt features, candidates can also use external aids such as screen readers.

These features provide a clear accessibility advantage over paper exams, which by nature are more inflexible.

A More Accessible Assessment Future

As we have explored, online exams can offer a more inclusive and accessible assessment experience by providing customisable accommodations and flexibility, tailored to diverse user needs. However, there’s always room for improvement.

Looking ahead, advancements in technology could significantly expand accessibility. For example, gesture and motion recognition could assist candidates with physical disabilities, while adaptive exams could dynamically adjust in real time to meet each candidate’s specific needs. These innovations could further enhance accessibility and ensure an even more personalised assessment experience.

Ultimately, the primary goal is to create a more equitable testing environment where all individuals, regardless of their circumstance, can demonstrate their knowledge and skills effectively.

Contact Us.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help with your exam accessibility why not book a demo today? Or contact our sales team on +44 (0) 1223 851703. Email