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Accessibility and Digital Assessments

Collaborative Research with Pearson, the world’s learning company, UK

Lonsdale students have always “bucked the trend”. No straightforward examination access arrangements for our students! School is committed to extending opportunity for all students and regularly submits comprehensive access arrangement requests to the examination boards backed by in-class practice, our young person’s usual way of working.

When Pearson UK approached Lonsdale wondering if we would assist them in developing digital tech assessments to support learning, we jumped at the chance. Too good an opportunity to miss! Visits have been made, discussions have taken place and most importantly, student trials have been undertaken.

Research was shared with delegates at the AEA-Europe Conference, New Visions for Assessment in Uncertain Times, 9th-12th November 2022, Dublin. Lonsdale made it to the international stage!

The ultimate “dream” would be for a student to be using eye gaze technology to interact directly with their exam paper. Liaising with a practical assistant will become “a thing of the past”. Can you imagine the freedom this would give to a learner? Answering questions in random order, flicking through an exam paper... all become a possibility as opposed to a dream. We are not there yet, but it will happen.

Key challenges include

  • The current ways in which learners are able (or unable) to access exams creates an “access” barrier.
  • Access arrangements can be inflexible and current modifications struggle to fully meet needs of learners.
  • More accessible and inclusive digital design would alleviate some of these challenges, but there is a long way to go. It’s much easier to write about than actually put in place.
  • There is no one size fits all solution – it’s such an individualised process.



Opportunities for personalisation in digital assessment will significantly improve accessibility and user experience for Lonsdale students. Importantly, this can reduce the sources of Construct Irrelevant Variance (CIV) – making assessments more valid, reliable, and fair. It does this for all students, without stigma and without the requirement for specialist diagnosis and resources.

The adoption of digital assessments therefore has the potential to provide significant equity benefits for all students, special and mainstream. Lonsdale is pushing boundaries, again!



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