Do university students with disabilities have access to alternative testing methods?


This question refers only to university students. In the US, for example, some universities offer courses that require students to sit no exams – their performance is measured by way of course work, assignments etc. Please describe what measures, if any, are being taken to provide alternative testing methods to those with disabilities? 

In detail


39% of respondents have confirmed that students have access to alternative testing methods in certain conditions and circumstances, which are often restricted to certain disabilities, or in available in certain universities. Though many children with disability may not reach university studies, there are several specific testing methods for diverse types of disabilities available:

  • Technology, software, testing methods allowing to write in Braille
  • training of staff (Thailand); special college programmes adapted to student’s needs (Philippines)
  • Support services available such as “On Campus Support” for students diagnosed with disability (such as in the USA, Ireland, India, Ghana)

“Students at the Universities have the right to use alternative testing methods. For instance Students with disabilities Can receive the test in braille, have oral testing’s, longer time etc. Since January 1, 2009, the non-discrimination law regulates prohibition against discrimination at institutions of higher education. The Act includes an obligation to take reasonable measures of accommodation. There are no new general studies on what measures is most common or how it works in practice.” (Roger Marklund, Swedish Disability Federation, International secretary, Sweden)

“Some universities offer alternative testing methods to disabled students but performance is not measured by way of course work or assignments. The alternative method offered is usually a multiple choice test instead of an essay.” (Goran Kustura, Secretary-general, NSIOS, Slovenia)

CRPD Article

Article 24- Education

“1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning directed to:

  1. The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
  2. The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
  3. Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.

2. In realizing this right, States Parties shall ensure that:

a) Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of disability;

b) Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live;

c) Reasonable accommodation of the individual’s requirements is provided;

d) Persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education;

e) Effective individualized support measures are provided in environments that maximize academic and social development, consistent with the goal of full inclusion.

3. States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:

a) Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;

b) Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;

c) Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.

4. In order to help ensure the realization of this right, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education. Such training shall incorporate disability awareness and the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.

5. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others. To this end, States Parties shall ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities.”

(UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)