[blindkid] how would you handle this PSAT issue?

Carrie Gilmer carrie.gilmer at gmail.com
Thu Sep 29 17:09:21 UTC 2011

Dear Sally,
Welcome to the next new nightmare on the way to adulthood...the College
Board. It has been a few years, but here is my recollection (at the time we
found through the NABS list that our experience was the norm)(also this was
brought directly to the attention of President Maurer and many others, as
well as NFB legal representatives, and it was not entirely news to them at
the time...it is my understanding that to date no concerted effort, to match
the efforts in accessibility to the LAW school entrance exam for example,
has occurred-perhaps, I hope, either there is some effort I am unaware of-or
in the last two years thru receiving a high number of complaints the Board
has itself corrected itself...

The same initial thing happened to us. The PSAT test came unannounced to us
until it was too late to meet the College Board's requirements of both
overall eligibility and specific accommodations. Additionally the school had
not considered the need (in its preparations for all students) for ANY
student needing accommodations~and completely failed to meet the timeline
requirements of the College Board in order to qualify. We found that the
Board communicates with a designated test coordinator person in each
district~the high school counselors/you/the TBVIS need to know and
coordinate with them...you can also directly communicate with the College
Board (good luck tho). 

First an individual must become qualified for ANY accommodation through the
Board's criteria for accommodations (ranging from alternative
format/alternate site-date/ALL media modes-ie use of braillenote for
writing-use of a reader or transcriber to need for more time for example).
There are two entities (one other besides the College Board) who give SAT
ACT PSAT and all AP entrance exams...
We had to (within their time line which is fairly long):
*Prove (with the proper paperwork) Jordan was a blind student AND his need
for EACH accommodation he required.
*Pay for the test(s)
*Get all necessary paperwork into the Board before they had a board meeting
(it is less the test date and more the time of this meeting BEFORE the test
date that is your concern at first) where they go over all accommodation
applications and approve EACH one/or not. They have a specific timeline for
*Remind them once he was approved AGAIN that he IS approved, well in advance
of an upcoming test.
*In the two weeks before the test-call them directly (TBVIS can do) to check
if it is indeed "in the mail"...
*For every NEW test CHECK that the status of approved accommodations is
approved and current WITHIN THEIR timelines.

Even after having done all this correctly, major mistakes can be made. And I
mean major, like no test arrives on the date, or accommodations or parts of
accommodations are not approved. One test--a full 18 months AFTER he had
been approved only came 6 weeks late AND after numerous direct calls and
conversations from the school district and us and finally only got action
after a three-way conversation with our lawyer actually on the phone...and
then the test was four years OLD when it did arrive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THEN if you do get the test, AND the accommodations! Wahoooo!; it is THE
NORM, that the test is YEARS OLD...they do NOT get the same test as their
peers. THEN---it is flagged and considered frequently by the higher
institutions (Universities) as not valid BECAUSE of the accommodations.

You got me started---in all eloquence, "puke on them", was and is my final
opinion of the College Board.

:) Carrie

-----Original Message-----
From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Sally Thomas
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:30 AM
To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)
Subject: [blindkid] how would you handle this PSAT issue?

Our school district has decided to give the 8-10 grade students a chance to 
practice taking the PSAT (in 8th grade it is a pre-PSAT) prior to the 11th 
grade "real" test.  The 8th grade test was new last year when my son was in 
8th grade and they told me there wasn't a braille version.  I asked about 
the PSAT for 9th grade and the assured me that they were getting the 
accommodations set up and that he would take the test.  I asked again before

the school year started and they said that he'd be ready to go.  This 
morning I received an email from the high school counselor telling me that 
the funding for the test was approved late so they won't be able to get a 
braille version of the test.  Mind you the test is next week so they must 
have known this for a while.

Doesn't the College Board have braille copies of the test on hand?  Can any 
of you tell me what you think the real reason is for the test not being 
available?  I already told the counselor that I was very unhappy with this 
and asked for the contact information of the people who made the decision to

give the test to all but the blind kids (probably not the most diplomatic 
approach).  Of course I have not had a response but I am wondering who would

be best to contact on this.  I am trying to fight the urge to contact 
everyone in authority until I get some feedback from some of you who are 
informed but a little less emotionally charged about this.

Thanks for your help.

Sally Thomas 

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