University of Edinburgh

Language and Accessibility Issues in Curriculum and Assessment plus workshops in Art & Design, Modern Languages, Environmental Studies

Presented in November 2005

Language and Accessibility Issues in Curriculum and Assessment

Marian Grimes, SSC

Recognising linguistic preference

  • Some deaf candidates may use English as their first language.
  • Some deaf candidates may use BSL as their first language.
  • Some deaf candidates may be given more adequate access if they are able to access both.

Creating Access to English

Many deaf candidates will require visual as well as aural access to English. Therefore: All spoken language assessment materials should be made available in visual formats:

  • Audio materials should be accompanied by a written transcript
  • Video materials should be subtitled and accompanied by a written transcript
  • Candidates should also be allowed to use a lip-speaker to facilitate access to ‘live’ spoken material, if this is their preferred mode of access.

A Working Group should be established to advise on the written language used in assessments. This group should take into account the fact that, for many, possibly most, deaf candidates, English is more equivalent to an additional language, than to a first or primary language.

Proposed modifications to the language of assessments would take account of the needs of deaf pupils, as well as other candidates for whom English is not their first or preferred language.

The aims of the Working Group would be to develop examination papers and assessment tools which use accessible English.

This would not necessarily mean using ‘simplified’ English, but rather taking into account the kinds of structures which might act as barriers to an assessment for some children.

Two key issues

  • The need to ensure that pupils are given appropriate opportunity to extend English skills
  • The need to be clear where an assessment:
    ‘effectively tests reading skills and consequently obscures a paper’s function in assessing the skills and concepts taught in a particular subject’ BATOD (2003) Language of Examinations (2nd ed)

Are assessments consistently in clear, accessible English?
If not, what can be done to move things forward?

Whose responsibility to ensure accessibility of the English?

  • SQA external exams
  • NABs
  • Classroom handouts

BATOD (2003) Language of Examinations: 2nd Edition
Price £15
Available from: BATOD Magazine, Publishing and Advertising, 41 The Orchard Leven Beverley East Yorkshire HU17 5QA
tel/fax 01964 544243 / 07889 268473

Forest Books, The New Building' Ellwood Road, Milkwall, Coleford, Gloucestershire. GL16 7LE
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