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Assessment

There is no one single strategy for creating assessments suitable for learners who have difficulty communicating with others, due to the wide range of conditions and impairments that might lead to such a difficulty. This group may include learners who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, learners who have difficulty speaking, learners with autism or mental health difficulties, and many others.

There are therefore many aspects to this difficulty in relation to assessment that need to be considered – users who have difficulty in delivering oral communication, users who have difficulty in receiving or understanding oral communication, users who have difficulty in reading non-verbal communication such as gestures, users who have difficulty in communicating in written or typed English, and users who have difficulty expressing themselves through language. Several of these are covered in the section pertaining to users who have difficulty hearing things and users who have difficulty seeing things. This section will focus on the issues associated with difficulty in delivering oral communication, difficulty reading non-verbal communications, and difficulty expressing through language.

Most paper-based assessments and most e-assessments will not be greatly affected by a difficulty in communicating with others, unless the learner uses BSL as their first language (see section on users who have difficulty hearing things) or they have a specific difficulty relating to expression through language. This is a very tricky area with regard to the legislation, as the Disability Discrimination Act states that in making adjustments for users with disabilities, academic standards should not be compromised. So it is often necessary to try to separate difficulty communicating with others from any associated learning difficulties for the purposes of assessment. This is a highly contentious area of course, and you may need to seek advice from Awarding Bodies or other validating institutions.

Obviously the assessment methods most likely to lead to difficulties for users who have difficulty communicating with others are those requiring the learner to speak, particularly if this is to be done with peers present (issues pertaining to confidence of the individual, anxiety, and the effect of more ‘dominant’ learners all come into play).

Assessment considerations - subsection:

Further information