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TOEFL Tip #171: TOEFL Accommodations For Test Takers With Special Needs

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on September 28, 2012

In its commitment to provide access to the TOEFL exam for those with disabilities and health-related needs, ETS offers a variety of technical accommodations and specialized services. This post will highlight a few important aspects of ETS’s accommodations for those who need them, but be sure to read the ETS webpage as well as the Bulletin Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities or Health-Related Needs.

If you need special accommodation to take the TOEFL, you MUST contact ETS Disability Services before you can register to take the exam. There are several forms to fill out, along with supporting documentation; once these are processed, you will receive an authorization letter with instructions for registering, plus an authorization/voucher number. You will need these in order to register for the exam.

Be aware of the amount of time necessary to secure accommodations. ETS says that the process takes up to 6 weeks once the complete package of forms and documentation has been submitted. If anything is missing from your initial submission, processing your request for accommodation will take up to an additional 6 weeks, once the missing items have been supplied. In addition, all materials must be mailed to ETS; accommodation requests cannot be submitted online. Be sure to start the accommodation request process early so you can schedule your exam in time for your applications.

A wide range of accommodations are available for test takers whose disabilities directly affect how they take the test, such as blindness or low vision; deafness or hardness of hearing; speech disabilities; and ADD or learning disabilities. Options include technological accommodations, such as using a special keyboard or mouse; assistance from a specialist, such as a sign language interpreter for the spoken directions of the exam; and adaptive accommodations such as extended test time. Test takers with needs other than those addressed by the options listed by ETS can describe their needs on the registration form.

Those test takers whose health-related needs require only minor accommodations – such as special lighting, an adjustable chair, or extra rest breaks – also need to fill out the forms; however, be aware that not all medical aids require an accommodation request. Devices that help you to move (crutches, wheelchair) or communicate (hearing aid, voice amplifier) do not require a request for accommodation. Likewise, insulin pumps do not require accommodation, unless the noise is likely to disturb other test takers. In that case, request accommodation so that you can take the exam in a separate room.

If you have a disability or health-related need, help is available. Investigate your options, and request accommodations early.


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