Brown DLD Faculty Guides

Accessible assessments

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What makes for an accessible and inclusive assessment? One that fosters student agency and allows for multiple means of demonstrating knowledge and participation.

Instead of a proctored test, for example, you might have students engage in an online discussion, work on a group project, or write a paper—all options in Canvas assignments. If you will also be teaching an in-person class alongside an online supplement, consider making the online assessments lower stakes than the in-class assessments.

You can also:

  • Develop multi-step assignments so students can progressively improve with multiple attempts.
  • Allow multiple attempts on assignments or quizzes in case of technical issues and/or improvement opportunities. 
  • Vary the style of assignments that are used to assess students’ mastery of course outcomes (e.g., case study, reading checks, reflection, media project).

Flexible deadlines also offer students opportunity to demonstrate knowledge without having to worry about completing an assignment by a particular date. Some instructors allow students to miss an assignment of their choice, dropping the grade for it. 

In a similar vein, allowing students to chose from among a variety of assessments fosters agency and quells anxiety. 

When developing assessment prompts, make sure instructions are clear and logical. Use language familiar to the students when communicating expectations, and make navigational structures easy to understand and use.

Finally, look to the students for guidance.  Consider their needs and experiences, and ask them to share their personal goals and expectations for learning in the course. Offer frequent opportunities for them to reflect on their learning (that is, what is working and what isn’t) and adjust your teaching accordingly.


If you are using Gradescope for your exams, please keep the following information in mind.

  • Use “Online Assignments.”  Online Assignments use Markdown language which is accessible to screen readers and other assistive technology. Online Assignments enable all students to equitably access your online assessments.
  • Use file upload questions in “Online Assignments.” Depending on the nature of the assignment, students can record an audio file of themselves talking through their work or a video file.
  • This assignment type provides students with multiple means of representing their learning.
  • For all other assignment types (Exams/Quizzes or Homework/Problem Sets), provide the template  or assignment in Canvas, outside of Gradescope, so it can be accessed by all students. 

Additional Resources

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