By: Jeff McCullough, Senior Director of Accessibility
The Center for Equity in Learning is committed to diversity and inclusion, which leads to our efforts around accessibility for students with disabilities and others. The single most important accomplishment during the past year was the adoption of a comprehensive, company-wide policy on accessibility. In September, ACT’s Senior Leadership Team approved the policy, which provides a corporate framework for all ACT products and services to follow in meeting our accessibility targets. We are shifting from a program-centered approach to a more holistic approach.
Our Test Development team is working to revise ACT’s Fairness Standards, with a renewed focus on universal test design for all populations. ACT has always incorporated universal design and fairness principles in our test constructs, but these new standards will recognize the changing landscape of the audiences we serve.
Improvements to the accommodations request process for test takers have been enacted, and further refinements are on the way to ensure a smoother customer experience. School personnel who need to request alternate formats, or changes to testing conditions will see an improved process.
Big changes also occurred in providing access to English Learners, the fastest growing segment of the K-12 population. In November, 2016, ACT announced our new supports for English learners on the ACT assessment. Beginning in fall 2017, students who participate in English Learner programs in school will have the opportunity to request supports that they normally receive in school. A summary of the available supports can be found here.
ACT’s Accessibility and Accommodations Oversight Board continues to strengthen ties to groups such as the Association on Higher Education and Disability and the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes to keep pace with the ever-changing ecosystem of accessibility. Partnerships with state workforce organizations also strengthen our ability to support learners and job seekers at all levels.
The past year has set the stage for continued progress in meeting the needs of our customers – all customers – to reach education and workplace success.