Accessibility gets a boost: U of T launches new Accommodated Testing Services platform

Exterior of the exam centre with someone walking by

Requesting, reviewing and processing accommodated test bookings just became easier for U of T’s instructors, staff and students.

The university’s new Accommodated Testing Services platform introduces significant benefits to manage over 25,000 requests per year through pre-existing U of T platforms.

In partnership with Accommodated Testing Services (ATS), Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration (EASI) fully launched the platform in January 2023.

“Due in part to a large increase in accommodated test requests, we needed to revamp our existing services,” says Steven Bailey, director of Learning Space Management. “Since 2010, we’ve seen a 146 per cent increase in accommodated test bookings. This new platform is not only helping to deal with the volume of requests but also provides a seamless, transparent and intuitive user experience.”

The ATS platform provides increased efficiency and security for instructors, helps administrators manage and track a high volume of requests, and ultimately reduces barriers for students registering to write with accommodations.

“These improvements for all users speak to how ATS works cooperatively with Accessibility Services and how we play a vital role in the execution of U of T’s commitment to accessibility,” says Bailey. “After an in-depth initial assessment, we discovered we could leverage well-known pre-existing U of T applications, making it easier for everyone to adapt to a new platform.”

Students who have test writing accommodations registered with Accessibility Services on the St. George Campus can conveniently request and view upcoming, past and cancelled bookings through ACORN. Instructors can submit accommodated test details and documents within the Course Information System, and administrators can coordinate accommodated tests through a new administrative system.

Since the beginning of the project in 2019, the project team consulted with a broad cross-section of students, instructors, staff and senior leadership. These consultations continued throughout all phases of the project.

After a pilot with select divisions, the instructor module was released to all instructors on the St. George Campus in fall 2020 and initial administrator functionality was released in 2021. The student request module in ACORN, as well as a significant portion of the administrative application, was released in January 2023.

“By combining a user-centered approach with process streamlining, we rolled out functionality and gathered feedback in stages,” says Mark Johnston, product manager working with EASI. “Using this iterative approach, we could design a platform that provides excellent service to all users, especially for students writing tests and exams with accommodations.”

What’s next for ATS?

The ATS team plans to enhance the current system by introducing functionality to support final exams beginning with the April 2023 exam period and, longer-term, roll-out additional functionality to support the broader Accessibility Services mandate at U of T.

“This is a significant step forward for U of T in its commitment to supporting students with accommodating testing needs,” says Bailey. “We are extremely happy to have these new platforms available to our stakeholders and look forward to improving and building these services going forward.”

Interested in learning more? View this video on how students create a request for an accommodated test within ACORN.