Student Accessibility Resources

About Student Accessibility Resources

This section provides an overview of the universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations available to students when taking Smarter Balanced online assessments.

Embedded resources are those that are part of the computer administration (e.g., digital notepad, calculator). Non-embedded resources are those provided outside the computer administration (e.g., scratch paper, multiplication table). All embedded and non-embedded resources are shown in the CDE California Student Assessment Accessibility for English Language Arts/Literacy and California Student Assessment Accessibility for Mathematics web documents, which are linked as PDFs on the CDE Student Accessibility Resources web page. Additional details can be found in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines.

Universal tools are accessibility resources that are available to all students.

Designated supports are available for use by any student for whom the need has been indicated by an educator or by a team of educators with the parent/guardian and student.

Accommodations are changes in procedures or materials that increase equitable access for students with documentation of the need for the accommodation on an IEP or Section 504 plan.

Universal Tools for All CAASPP Assessments

The online tools described in table 1 are available within all online tests for all students. These tools can be turned off in the TA Interface before students begin testing, but note that by turning off a universal tool, it becomes a designated support.

Table 1. Global Testing Tools

Test Tool Description

[Help] Icon

Question mark

To access the Test Instructions and Help screen at any time, the student selects the [Help] question mark icon.

[Zoom In] and [Zoom Out] Buttons

Magnifying glass with a plus sign in itMagnifying glass with a minus sign in it

To reduce or enlarge the text display and images, the student selects the [Zoom In] or [Zoom Out] buttons.
English Glossary Some words have a light gray dotted outline. These words have synonyms or descriptions. The student can select these words to open the glossary.

Expandable Passages

Arrow pointing to the rightArrow pointing to the left

The student can expand passages and stimuli for easier readability. For more information, refer to the Expandable Passages section.

To highlight a section of text in a passage or test item, the student selects text on the screen, right-clicks, and then selects the [Highlight] button. A student can select from four colors.

Note: Text in images cannot be highlighted. This tool is not available while the Line Reader tool is in use.

Keyboard Navigation The student navigates throughout text by using a keyboard.

Line Reader

Outline of a flat oval shape

The student uses an on-screen universal tool to assist in reading by raising and lowering the tool for each line of text on the screen.
Mark (Flag) for Review

The student opens the context menu for an item and selects Mark for Review from the context menu.

Note: The context menu is described in greater detail in the Context Menus Overview subsection.

Notepad The student selects Notepad in the context menu for any item for which notes are to be taken.
Strikethrough Strikethrough allows the student to cross out answer options for selected-response items by opening the context menu for an answer option and then selecting Strikethrough. A thick gray line will appear over the answer option.
Thesaurus (for ELA performance task full writes) A thesaurus is available for the full write portion of an ELA performance task. A thesaurus contains synonyms of terms while the student interacts with text included in the assessment. A full write is the second part of a performance task. The use of this universal tool may require more time to complete the assessment.


Tutorial button

In the context menu for an item, the student selects the [Tutorial] [Tutorial button] button to view a brief video about the item type (e.g., selected-response, constructed-response).

Expandable Passages

Some items are associated with a passage or stimulus. Students can expand the passage section so that it takes up a larger portion of the screen, making it easier to read. This action will cover a portion of the items in the right pane.

Students can access a button in the upper-right corner of the passage section that shows a double arrow (figure 1). This is the [Expand] arrows icon.

Figure 1. [Expand] icon

To expand and collapse the passage section:

  • To expand the section, the student selects the [Expand] arrows icon. The section will expand and cover the items.
  • To collapse the section, the student selects the [Expand] arrows icon again. The section will collapse to its original size, and the items will be visible.

Universal Tools for ELA Performance Tasks

The following online tools (table 2) are available for ELA performance tasks.

Table 2. ELA Performance Task Test Tools

Test Tool Description

Global Notes

Pencil on a piece of paper

Students may access a notepad throughout the test. This notepad is not item-specific. It allows students to enter notes for themselves. The notes entered for Part 1 of the performance task will be available in Part 2.

To open the global notes notepad, the student selects the [Notes] button in the global menu bar.


Open book

Students may open the Merriam-Webster dictionary within the test. This tool is available during the second segment of ELA performance task tests.

To open the dictionary, the student selects the [Dictionary] button in the global menu bar.

Spell Check For tests that contain writing responses, the student may use an available spell check tool.

A thesaurus contains synonyms of terms while a student interacts with the text included in the assessment.

The student accesses the thesaurus by selecting the [Dictionary] button in the global menu bar during specific test segments.

Writing Tools For tests that contain writing responses, the student may use available formatting tools.

Universal Tools for Mathematics by Grade Level

In addition to the universal tools listed in table 1, students also have access to online calculators for mathematics items that allow a calculator and math tools:

  • Basic calculator: grade six
  • Scientific calculator: grades seven and eight
  • Graphing, regression, and scientific calculators: high school (grades nine, ten, and eleven)
  • Math tools: These digital tools (i.e., embedded ruler, embedded protractor) are used for measurements related to mathematics items. These are available only with the specific items for which one or more of these tools would be appropriate.

Selected Embedded Designated Supports and Accommodations

The following embedded designated supports and accommodations require students to interact with on-screen buttons and menus:

  • ASL
  • Audio Transcript (includes braille transcript)
  • Closed Captioning (for ELA listening items)
  • Translation (Glossary)
  • Masking
  • Print on Demand
  • TTS

This section provides information on how students can access the accessibility resources previously listed. While a test administrator may set one of these resources for a student in a student’s interim assessment test session, it will only be available during that test session. To assign one of these accessibility resources to both the interim and summative assessments, the appropriate accessibility resources must be set in TOMS by the LEA CAASPP coordinator or the CAASPP test site coordinator. In addition, for accommodations and unlisted resources to be available to a student, a student must either have a Special Education Individuals with Disabilities Education Act indicator set to “Yes” and a primary disability code applied or a Section 504 plan set to “Yes” in TOMS.

ASL Video Tool

Students who have the ASL accommodation can use the ASL tool to view test content translated into ASL by a human signer. Translations are available for listening passages.

To access the ASL tool:

  1. The student opens the passage [Context Menu].
  2. The student selects the [American Sign Language] button (figure 2). The video will open in the lower-left corner of the screen (figure 3).

    Figure 2. Passage context menu with ASL

    Figure 3. Sample ASL video in test

  3. The student may move (drag) the video to another part of the screen.
  4. The student may pause, rewind, resume, and replay the video. An embedded audio scrubber (figure 4) allows the student to select the desired position of the video.

    Figure 4. Embedded audio scrubber

The English Glossary Universal Tool and the Glossary (Translation and Illustration) Designated Supports

The English Glossary tool is a universal tool. All students have access to the English Glossary on ELA and mathematics tests unless it is disabled in the TA Interface.

The Translation (Glossary) tool and Illustration Glossary tool are designated supports but are available for interim assessments without setting the support(s) in TOMS. Translations and illustrations are available only for mathematics tests. All glossary tools work the same way.

Open the Glossary for a Word or Phrase:

  1. The student selects or taps a word within the text that has a dashed line above and below it (e.g., “fit” in figure 5). The Glossary window will open.
  2. If two glossaries are available for the selected word or phrase, two tabs will appear (figure 5). The active tab is shaded darkly (blue). The student can toggle between the two glossary tabs.

    Figure 5. Sample Glossary window displaying two glossaries

Masking Designated Support

Students who have masking as a designated support can use the Masking tool to allow them to focus on one part of the screen at a time. A student who activates the Masking tool can mask as many areas as needed. Figure 6 shows answer options that have been selected for masking. Figure 7 shows those areas masked.

Figure 6. Masking: Preview area

Figure 7. Masking: Masked area

Activate the Masking Tool on Desktops and Laptops (with a Mouse or Trackpad):

  1. In the global menu, the student selects the [Masking] button []. The button will be shaded orange after it has been selected.
  2. Using the mouse, the student selects and drags the cursor until the area intended to be covered is fully selected. The preview will have a dashed border.
  3. The student releases the mouse button. The masked area will become dark gray.

    1. As long as the Masking tool is active (i.e., the button is shaded orange), other areas can be masked.
    2. To close a masked area, the student selects the [X] icon [] in the upper-right corner.
    3. To exit the Masking tool, the student selects the [Masking] button. The button will change color to green.

Activate the Masking Tool on Tablets:

  1. In the global menu, the student taps the [Masking] button. The button will be shaded orange after it has been selected.
  2. With a finger, the student taps and drags until the area intended to be covered is fully selected. The preview will have a dashed border.
  3. The student removes the finger from the screen. The masked area will become dark gray.
    1. As long as the Masking tool is active (i.e., the button is shaded orange), other masked areas can be added.
    2. To close the masked area, the student taps the [X] icon [] in the upper-right corner.
    3. To exit the Masking tool, the student taps the [Masking] button. The button will change color to green.

Print-on-Demand Accommodation

Students who are granted the print-on-demand accommodation may request printing of reading passages or test items or both. While the test administrator may set this accommodation for a student in the interim assessment test session, it will only be available during that test session.

A student who has this accommodation can access the [Print Passage] button [] or [Printer] button [] for each item. A student who does not have an approved print-on-demand accommodation cannot access any printer buttons.

The print-on-demand tool requires interacting with the test administrator, as student print requests are sent to the TA Interface. After the test administrator reviews and approves a print request, the passages or items can be sent to a printer and distributed to the student who originated the request. This tool requires significant attention to the security of the test passages and items that have been printed. The test administrator must also be mindful of the potential impact on the level of support for other students.

  1. To request that a reading passage or item be printed, the student must select the corresponding [Print] button from the global menu (figure 8) or context menu (figure 9).

    Figure 8. Print options in the global menu

    Figure 9. Print Item in the context menu

  2. The following options may be available:
    1. Print Page: Print all test content on the page (e.g., passage and items).
    2. Print Passage: Print only the passage on the page.
    3. Print Item: Print only the selected item.
  3. Once the print request has been sent, the student is presented with a message (figure 10) indicating that the request has been sent to the test administrator. After the student selects the [OK] button, the pop-up window closes.

    Figure 10. Print Request submitted message

  4. On the TA Interface, the [Print] icon [] will appear in the Requests column in the Students in your Operational Test Session table (figure 11). Select the icon to view the student’s request.

    Figure 11. TA Interface [Print] icon

  5. Review the print request (figure 12). If the print request is approved, select the [Approve] icon []. A cover sheet containing the student’s name and SSID will open in a new web browser window. The requested test content will not be displayed on the screen at any time.

    Screen capture of the Print Request Preview box in the Test Administrator Interface

    Figure 12. Print Request preview (TA Interface)

  6. Select the [Print] button in the new window to complete the print request and view the printer dialog box. If necessary, adjust the print settings for the printer (e.g., fit to page).
  7. Select the [OK] button. The approved test content will be sent to the printer. The document will print with a title page showing the student’s name and a security warning.
  8. After testing is complete, collect any documents printed for students and securely dispose of them.

Text-to-Speech Speak Tool

Students using TTS can use the Speak tool to listen to passages, test questions, or test questions and options (figure 13).

Figure 13. Speak tool options for items

Use of the Speak tool requires headphones to listen to the audio. Students should use headphones with a built-in volume control.

Access the Speak Tool:

  1. The student opens the context menu for an area that contains text. The context menu will appear with the available [Speak] drop-down list options (figure 13). Refer to the Context Menus Overview subsection for descriptions on opening context menus on different testing devices.
  2. Select the desired [Speak] button, and the text will be spoken aloud.

List of Test Settings and Student Accessibility Resources

The full list of the universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations that are used in CAASPP online assessments, including the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments, is available on the CDE CA Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix web page. These accessibility resources for students are described in the CAASPP and ELPAC Accessibility Guide for Online Testing.