Behind the Scenes of AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre

Hello faculty members! It’s Jennifer Gillies here, the associate director of AccessAbility Services. In my last blog post for FAUW, I talked about the general operations of AccessAbility Services. This time, I’m going to share some ‘behind the scenes’ information about our Exam Centre.

Why is there an AccessAbility Services Exam Centre?

AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre is both a student and faculty service. The Exam Centre enables students to write tests with their approved accommodations, without requiring faculty to facilitate the accommodations themselves. Accommodations such as securing scribes, purchasing and setting up assistive technology, monitoring supervised breaks, providing additional writing time, and securing rooms that have natural light or ergonomic furniture can be difficult to coordinate, so our office is here to help.

Who writes in the Exam Centre?

AccessAbility Services provides academic accommodations and support to approximately 2,500 students, almost all of whom receive testing accommodations. The Exam Centre facilitates approximately 6,000 tests a term, for students with a variety of disabilities.

Where do students write their tests?

A student writing a test with AccessAbility Services will be scheduled to write in one of five locations, based on factors in their accommodation (e.g., the need for a scribe or natural lighting).

  1. The Exam Centre Technology Lab – 18 cubicles, each with an approved computer and with frosted glass partitions between cubicles. The maximum student-to-proctor ratio is 18:1.
  2. The Exam Centre’s separate writing space – 26 cubicles with frosted glass partitions. The maximum student-to-proctor ratio is 26:1.
  3. The Exam Centre individual technology rooms – Used for persons who require scribes or voice-activated assistive technologies. The student-to-proctor ratio may be 1:1.
  4. The AccessAbility Services classroom (used only during peak times) – 12 large tables, where students are assigned 1 to a table. The maximum student-to-proctor ratio is 12:1.
  5. Off-site lecture halls (used only during peak times) – Students are seated at least one seat apart. The maximum student-to-proctor ratio is 26:1 (note that the Registrar’s Office ratio is 60:1).

Exam locations and seats are pre-assigned by Geoffrey Shifflett, the Exam Centre manager, not by exam proctors, and students are not permitted to switch seats or request seats based on preference. Finals in off-site lecture halls, however, do not have pre-assigned seats.

How does the Exam Centre support academic integrity?

AccessAbility Services is committed to creating an exam writing environment that both supports the accommodation needs of our students and maintains the highest standard of academic integrity. We understand how important your exams are to you and appreciate the trust that is required for our office to facilitate your exam. Here are some ways that we help to ensure exam integrity:

  • Students using the washroom during a test are escorted; they sign in and out, and conduct a pocket check when they leave and return.
  • Students are asked to stow their belongings (coats, bags, and electronics) in a supervised, designated space just outside of the exam rooms.
  • A supervised and tech-free area is provided to those who require breaks.
  • Access to all exams is limited and restricted using protocols that passed a Deloitte audit.
  • We have lower than normal student-to-proctor ratios.
  • Students are never placed directly beside each other without a partition or extra seating in between. When individual accommodations dictate the precise writing location (e.g., natural light) or there is a large class cohort (e.g., 12 students from the same class require the 18-seat Technology Lab), it can be hard to avoid having students writing the same test at adjacent cubicles or tables, but there will always be at least a partition or empty seat between them.

Academic integrity is of paramount importance, and so is the health and wellness of our students. We endeavour to create an environment that supports student wellness by removing the temptations for academic misconduct and using education to ensure students make informed and positive choices.

How can I help?

Tests in the Exam Centre work best when we have a collaborative and cooperative relationship with instructors. Two things you can do to help your students’ exams go  smoothly are to:

  1. Complete the testing agreement two weeks prior to the scheduled test: This agreement allows us to ensure that students writing in the Exam Centre write under similar conditions as those in class.
  2. Submit tests two business days prior to the start of the test: This gives us time to apply accommodation modifications (such as enlargement or braille) and print the exams.

If you have any questions or need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Geoffrey Shifflett, Exam Centre manager.

Jennifer Gillies:
Geoffrey Shifflett:

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