Disabilities and Health-related Needs
ETS is committed to serving test takers with disabilities or health-related needs by providing services and reasonable accommodations that are appropriate given the purpose of the particular test. This abbreviated version of our documentation guidelines for blindness and low vision is provided as a quick reference. For full details, please review the "ETS Guidelines for Documentation of Blindness and Low Vision in Adolescents and Adults" below.
Note: Many individuals with visual impairments can apply for accommodations on ETS tests WITHOUT submitting documentation of their disability. Reference Section IV, "Who must submit documentation from a qualified professional?", of the policy statement.
For those who DO need to submit documentation of a visual impairment, the ETS Vision Documentation Statement has three parts:
The Vision Documentation Statement must:
Reference Section V, A of the policy statement.
Office of Disability Policy
Educational Testing Service
Princeton, NJ 08541
The optometrist or ophthalmologist, the disability service provider, and the test taker with a visual disability should each receive and read this entire document.
The optometrist or ophthalmologist should complete ONLY Part 1 of the Vision Documentation Statement, then send it to the test taker.
The disability service provider should complete ONLY Part 2 (if applicable) of the Vision Documentation Statement, then send it to the test taker.
The test taker should complete ONLY Part 3 of the Vision Documentation Statement.
The test taker should then submit Parts 1 and 3, and Part 2 if applicable, to ETS.
These guidelines are intended to help test takers with a variety of visual impairments identify appropriate professional evaluation materials to support accommodation requests. This documentation is necessary to validate both the presence of a disability and the need for reasonable accommodations for candidates seeking to register with Educational Testing Service (ETS). These guidelines may be used to verify eligibility for reasonable and appropriate accommodations as defined under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as amended and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) and are intended for use by individual test takers and qualified diagnosticians. Once we review your materials, we may request additional information to clarify the level of severity of your impairment and the reasonableness of your accommodation requests. ETS acknowledges that each test taker's circumstances are unique and that a case-by-case approach to documentation requirements is helpful to both individuals and their evaluators.
ETS has separate guidelines for documentation of learning disabilities (LD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hearing loss, physical disabilities and chronic health-related conditions, and psychiatric disabilities.
Legal blindness: In the better eye, (1) visual acuity 20/200 or less with correction, or (2) a visual field limitation such that the widest part of the visual field covers an angle no greater than 20 degrees.
Low vision: Severe visual impairment that typically is partially improved, but not fully resolved, by corrective lenses.
Test takers should be assured that reviewers of disability documentation will be sensitive in reviewing this information. Furthermore, to safeguard confidentiality, evaluators may withhold or redact any portion of the documentation that is not directly relevant to ETS's criteria for establishing both a disability, as defined by the ADAAA, and a rationale for testing accommodations. ETS will not release any information regarding an individual's diagnosis or medical condition without his or her informed written consent or under compulsion of legal processes. Information will be released only on a "need-to-know" basis except where otherwise required by law.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as amended, qualified individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination and may be entitled to reasonable accommodations. The ADAAA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, walking, standing, lifting, breathing, speaking, communicating, concentrating, reading, and working.
To establish that an individual is covered under the ADAAA, documentation must indicate that the individual has a specific disability that substantially limits or restricts the condition, manner, or duration of performing a major life activity. A diagnosis of a disorder/condition/syndrome or impairment in and of itself does not automatically qualify an individual for accommodations under the ADAAA.
A.If you are legally blind or have low vision (as defined above), you do NOT need to submit documentation from a qualified professional if you are submitting a Certification of Eligibility: Accommodations History and you are requesting only accommodations from the following list:
B.You need to submit documentation from a qualified professional ONLY if:
The ETS Vision Documentation Statement is composed of three parts:
Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses, offering clinical judgments, and making recommendations for accommodations must be qualified to do so. It is essential that professional qualifications include both (1) comprehensive training and relevant expertise in the specialty and (2) appropriate licensure/certification. For most individuals who are blind or have low vision, if documentation is required, the evaluation (reported in Part 1) should be performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
A diagnosis documented by a family member will not be accepted because of professional and ethical considerations, even when the family member is otherwise qualified by virtue of training and licensure or certification. The issue of dual relationships, as defined by various codes of professional ethics, should be considered in determining whether a professional is in an appropriate position to provide the necessary documentation.
The name, title, and credentials of the qualified professional writing the report should be included. Information about licensure or certification, including the area of specialization, employment and the state or province in which the individual practices, should also be clearly stated in the documentation.
Information about functional limitations may be provided in Part 1, 2, and/or 3 of the Vision Documentation Statement.
Many visual impairments are of a permanent or unchanging nature. If the candidate nonetheless needs to submit documentation, then a simple statement from the optometrist or ophthalmologist of the diagnosis and the functional limitations should suffice.
Because of the changing manifestations of many visual conditions, it is essential that a test taker provide recent and appropriate documentation from the optometrist or ophthalmologist. If the diagnostic report is more than three years old, the test taker must submit a letter from a qualified professional that provides an update of the diagnosis, an indication of the severity of the functional impact of the disability in a testing setting as well as in other life realms, and a rationale for each of the requested testing accommodations. The nature, severity, and extent of the test taker's condition and the functional limitations as they relate to test taking should be addressed. The recommendations cannot be supported solely by a history of prior accommodations or self-report. In some cases, an updated letter from a qualified professional may simply address why older documents or reports continue to be relevant.
Diagnostic information should be provided in Part 1 of the Vision Documentation Statement. In most cases, documentation should be based on a comprehensive diagnostic/clinical evaluation that adheres to the guidelines outlined in this document. The diagnostic report should include the following components:
This information will typically appear in Part 2, which is completed by the disability services provider or another professional who has worked with the applicant in an academic or work setting. It may be supplemented by information in Parts 1 and/or 3.
Part 1 – To be completed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist
Please address the following points in a narrative statement submitted on letterhead. The statement should be in English, typed, dated and signed, with a license number.
Part 2 – To be completed by the disability service provider, if applicable
Please address the following points in a narrative statement submitted on letterhead. The statement should be in English, typed, dated and signed.
Describe how the applicant's diagnosis and symptoms may impact his or her ability to take a standardized test. Please include a strong rationale for each of the requested accommodations. Although a history of accommodations is helpful information, it cannot be the sole support for a request.
Part 3 – To be completed by the test taker with a visual disability
In narrative form, provide a typed, dated, and signed description, in English, of how your diagnosis and symptoms may impact your ability to take a standardized test. Please include a strong disability-related rationale for each of the requested accommodations. Although a history of accommodations is helpful information, it cannot be the sole support for your request.
It may be appropriate to include:
Accommodative skills: the ability of the eye's lens to adjust automatically to see at different distances
Confrontation visual field testing: a gross measure of the extent of the field of vision, determined by using the examiner's fingers as a target
Convergence: the simultaneous inward movement of both eyes toward each other, usually in an effort to maintain single binocular vision when viewing an object
Convergence insufficiency or convergence disorder: An eye coordination problem in which the eyes have a tendency to drift outward when reading or doing close work
Deviation: in cases in which the eyes do not fixate at the same point, a measure of the extent of the difference
Diplopia: double vision
Pursuit: an eye movement in which the eyes smoothly follow a moving target (such as a car, a jogger, or a tennis ball) in space
Saccade: a small rapid jerky movement of the eye, especially as it jumps from fixation on one point to another (as in reading)
Suppression: when the brain ignores the visual image being transmitted from one eye, as in strabismus or amblyopia
Threshold visual field testing: a sophisticated determination of the field of vision in which both the extent and sensitivity of vision are measured
Tracking: the ability of the eyes to follow the movement of an object in motion
If you have questions or need additional information, contact Disability Services.