Access arrangements are special arrangements meant for accommodating individual candidates with special needs or disabilities in academic assessment settings. The arrangement is so that the individual may be able to access the facility and/or service provided and do his/her utmost best. According to the Joint Council for Qualifications (2016) in the UK, access arrangements are special arrangements that are meant to allow candidates with special educational needs or temporary injuries to access and show what they know and do without changing the demands of the assessment. A key aspect of the access assessment is that it is intended at meeting the needs of individual candidates and ensure equality without affecting the integrity of the assessment. This arrangement is provided to a person who has a permanent, long term, or short term disability or special need.
Which types of special needs types would require access arrangement?
The following are some examples of special needs with which candidates normally get access arrangement:
What are some examples of access arrangements?
Access arrangements are most common in, but not limited to the education field, where learners are often required to show their academic capabilities. They are applicable in homes, schools, workplaces and public spaces. The following are some of the arrangements that can be made to enhance access.
|Type of special need||Access arrangements|
|Visual impairment||Structural modification; Braille materials; Enlarged print/Text/Graphics; Preferential sitting; Mobility aide; Scribe.|
|Hearing impairment||Sign language interpretation; Separate room/space; Assistive technology/device; noise absorbents|
|Learning and intellectual disabilities||Reader or writer (scribe); Teacher aide; Extra time; Separate room; Modification ( e.g. exam paper or application form)|
|Health impairment||Timed breaks; Extra time; Assistive technology; Preferential sitting; Separate room; Preferential attendees; Structural modifications (Depending on the type of health problem)|
|Physical disabilities||Assistive technology; Structural Modifications; Extra time; Reader or writer (scribe) ;Preferential sitting; Care taker;Teacher aide.|
What are key considerations for access arrangements?
Access arrangements are prescribed by a qualified medical or any other professional, such as educational psychologist, special needs therapist, special educationist and others. The access prescription follows a special need or disability assessment. A special need /disability assessment is an enquiry carried out to assert the kind of disability/special need; the severity of the disability or special need; and effective ways of mitigating the effects of the disability or special need.
Following the assessment, a detailed report showing the outcome of the assessment is produced. Among other things, the report shows or proposes interventions that should to help the individual with disability or special need. That is, ways with which the individual’s weaknesses emanating from his/her condition may be minimised and strengths be maximised. Based on the report, the relevant authorities (individual, parent, teacher) can make the necessary access arrangement and/or further make request to relevant bodies (e.g. to the external/national/international examinations) for access arrangement. The application for access arrangement should always be supported by the medical or special need assessment report.
What happens after an external body approves request for access arrangement?
Once access request has been approved, those responsible can begin to arrange access, as per the approval. This means that modifications can be made, some materials be purchased, and/or relevant personnel be hired (Depends on the type of disability or special need and prescribed interventions/access).
What if the person with special need (e.g. learner) is uncomfortable with arranged access?
Sometimes a child, learner and even an adult with special need or disability may feel uncomfortable with the prescribed and arranged form of access. For example, a learner may not like the idea of separate room, or even extra time. When that happens, it is often because the learner is in denial, feels shy, or other reasons. A situation where the person with special need or disability questions or rejects the access arranged for him or her, is a sure sign that he/she was not adequately informed or psychologically prepared for the arrangement. This boils down to the importance of consultation, especially with the guardian and the individual with special need, prior to enforcement of the access arrangement. It is very important that the guardian and/or the individual with disability or special need understands and appreciates why certain things should be done. Nothing should be done for him/her without him/her. This is despite how long or what effort it may take to help him/her understand and appreciate the access arranged.
Strategies to help special needs person appreciate the arranged access
The following are some of the strategies that can be employed to help ensure the person with special need or disability appreciate and accept the access arranged. These are:
Where can I enquire or apply for access arrangement?
Should you need to apply for or ask questions about access arrangement, you may contact the following: