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Many students with learning and attention issues have encountered significant hurdles when they request accommodations on high-stakes tests such as the SAT or ACT, as well as licensing exams for cosmetology and other trades. Failure among testing entities to understand and meet their obligations under ADA can limit the opportunities available to individuals with disabilities.

In response to “excessive and burdensome documentation demands” and other complaints, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a technical assistance brief in 2015. This document clarified several points, including:

  • Testing entities are obligated to provide accommodations under ADA for any exam related to licensing, certification or credentialing for secondary or postsecondary education, professional or trade purposes.
  • Testing entities are prohibited from flagging scores for individuals with disabilities who receive accommodations.
  • Proof of past test accommodations is generally sufficient in a student’s request for current test accommodations.

DOJ also hosted a webinar about key ADA provisions to help state leaders in K–12 education learn more about accommodations on standardized tests. The webinar also asked states and schools to report inappropriate denials of test accommodations to DOJ.

Testing entities have responded by streamlining the way students apply for accommodations. Some tests are also incorporating accessibility features and other design changes that are likely to benefit students with learning and attention issues. The table below details some of the recent changes.