When you distribute a test, you give directions before students begin to work on the test. Then during the test, you may answer an occasional question. In this situation you may have questions about how best to use an interpreter/captionist.

On occasion, Deaf/HH students may ask for significant accommodations. For example, they may ask for extended time, for someone to edit the test to simplify the English level, to have an interpreter sign the test and voice the responses, to use a computer on an essay test, or to work in an environment that is distraction-free.

Testing accommodation is a gray area – with valid arguments of fairness and accommodation made on both sides. You may feel the need to treat all students fairly, and Deaf/HH students may request accommodations because of the effect of deafness on their language skills, if any. As you make your decision, we have limited advice and suggest to keep in mind whether you are testing content area, English skill, or both.


  • Discuss the situation privately with the student before the test, with an interpreter/captionist if needed.
  • Determine what your campus policies are; refer to campus experts on student accommodations.
  • Determine whether or not the student has official written support for his/her request. (At some universities, an official document lists accommodations required for a student to exhibit his/her best knowledge of the material.)
  • If there are questions about interpreting/captioning services during a test, work with all parties to resolve issues.
  • Perhaps Deaf/HH students ask questions at the same rate as hearing students during tests; your policy has been to interrupt all students and answer all questions to the entire class. If you feel that this policy is fair to everyone, but disrupts everyone, one strategy is to prohibit all student questions during the test. Place directions on the test paper, and then do not answer questions during the test.
    • Explain this policy so students understand you're doing it to eliminate disruption and ensure fairness. The first time, students may test the policy or become upset; but hold your ground and students will adjust.
    • Suggest that if students have a problem with a particular question, they write it on the test paper before submitting the test.
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