Accommodating the Syllabus to Visually Impaired Students in the English Language Classroom

Challenges and Concerns


  • Ana-Isabel Martínez-Hernández Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain)
  • Begoña Bellés-Fortuño Universitat Jaume I
Keywords: Special needs, Visually impaired, Higher Education, English language teaching, Curricular accommodation, TTS, Blind, Exam, Accessible


The inclusion of students with disabilities in the education system results in content or assessment accommodations to suit the students’ special needs and to ensure they have acquired the objectives listed in the curriculum. In this paper, we aim at proposing different ways to accommodate a university English language test to a partially blind student who used text-to-speech tools (TTS) in order to provide them with accurate assessment. To carry out this research, the student has been monitored throughout the course to see which accommodations fit their1 needs best. All in all, we have observed that read-aloud accommodations lead to a better inclusion of the partially sighted student and better performance.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Ana-Isabel Martínez-Hernández, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain)

Ana-Isabel Martínez-Hernández is a PhD student and a part-time lecturer in the Department of Translation and Communication at Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain), where she lectures English in the degree of Translation and Interpreting. Her research interests are focused on Foreign Language Teaching, concretely English, to students with special needs in Higher Education. Recent publications include the book review  of Assistive Technology in Special Education: Resources to Support Literacy, Communication, and Learning Differences by L. Joan Green, Language Value 11, no. 1 (2019).

Begoña Bellés-Fortuño, Universitat Jaume I

Begoña Bellés Fortuño holds a PhD in English Philology by Universitat Jaume I in Castelló. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of English Studies at Universitat Jaume I, where she currently lectures English Studies degree students as well as in the degrees of Medicine and Tourism. She also teaches English courses for future Erasmus students and for graduate students within the frame of Erasmus +. She currently coordinates the International Programmes Exchange for the English Studies degree students and the International Internship Programme supporting students in the whole process. She is the Director of the Interuniversity Institute of Modern Applied Languages (IULMA) at Universitat Jaume I. She was a Morley Scholar in the ELI (English Language Institute) at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, USA) in 2007, where she worked together with the MICASE team. She has been a visiting researcher in Universities such as Midsweden University (Sweden), Katolische Univesität Eichstaett (Germany) or University of Edinburgh (UK). Her research interests are focused on Discourse Analysis, and more concretely, academic discourse both written and spoken, as well as on Contrastive and Corpus Linguistics, as her latest national and international publications show. In the educational side, she runs an educational project on CLIL in the university classroom.


Bell, J. & Thomas, A. (2014) Gold First Coursebook. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Bellés-Fortuño, B. & Martínez-Hernández, A.I. (in press). The use of Wordclouds for vocabulary retention in the English for Psychology classroom. The EuroCALL review, 28.

Bellés-Fortuño, B. (2019). Diversity in the language classroom. (B. Bellés-Fortuño, Ed.) Language Value, 11(1), pp. i-iii.

CAST. (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. from

“Center for Parent Information and Resources.” Supports, Modifications, and Accommodations for Students, Newark, NJ. Retrieved 7 February, 2020.

Constitución Española. Boletín Oficial del Estado, 29 de diciembre de 1978, 311: 29313-29424.

Corporación de derecho público. In Diccionario del español jurídico. Real Academia Española. 2020. Retrieved 14 February, 2020.

Corporaciones de derecho público. In Enciclopedia Jurídica. 2020. Retrieved 14 February, 2020.

Council of Europe. (2001). Common European framework of reference for languages: learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge, U.K.: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

“Council Recommendation of 22 May 2018 on promoting common values, inclusive education, and the European dimension of teaching.” Official Journal of the European Union. (2018/C 195/01) ST/9010/2018/INIT

Cuadrado Gordillo, I., Davara Rodríguez, L., López Risco, M. & Murillo Gil, M. (1998). Alumnos con necesidades educativas especiales. Tomo I. Cáceres: Universidad de Extremadura. Servicio de Publicaciones.

Dolan, R.P. & Hall, T.E. (2001). Universal Design for Learning: Implications for Large-Scale Assessment. IDA Perspectives, 27(4), 22-25.

Dolan, R.P., Burling, K.S., Rose, D., Beck, R., Murray, E., Strangman, N., Nichols, A. & Strain-Seymour, E. (2010). Universal Design for Computer-Based Testing (UD-CBT) Guidelines. Iowa City, IA: Pearson Education.

Dolan, R. P., Hall, T. E., Banerjee, M., Chun, E. & Strangman, N. (2005). Applying principles of universal design to test delivery: The effect of computer-based read-aloud on test performance of high school students with learning disabilities. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 3(7), 1-33. Retrieved from

Douglas, G., McCall, S., Pavey, S. & Nisbet, P. (2009). Summary report on international systems of exam access for visually impaired pupils: United Kingdom. CALL Scotland.

España. Ley Orgánica 1/1990, de 3 de octubre, de Ordenación del Sistema Educativo, 238: 28927-28942.

España. Ley Orgánica 10/2002, de 23 de diciembre, de Calidad de la Educación, 24 de diciembre de 2002, 307: 45188-45220.

España. Ley Orgánica 2/2006, de 3 de mayo, de Educación, 4 de mayo de 2006, 106. (LOE).

España. Ley Orgánica 8/2013, de 9 de diciembre, para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa, 10 de diciembre de 2013, 295.

European Commission. (2017). The Pillar of Social Rights.

European Commission. (2017). Proposal for an Interinstitutional Proclamation on the European Pillar of Social Rights, COM 251 final.

European Commission. (2015). Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) New priorities for European cooperation in education and training. Official Journal of the European Union (2015/C 417/04).

European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice. (2016). Promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education: Overview of education policy developments in Europe following the Paris Declaration of 17 March 2015. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Freedom Scientific. (n.d). Jaws (Job Access with Speech).

Hansen, E.G. & Mislevy, R.J. (2008). Design Patterns for Test Takers With Disabilities. ETS.

Harrison, J.R., Bunford, N., Evans, S.W. & Owens, J.S. (2013). Educational Accommodations for Students with Behavioral Challenges: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Review of Educational Research, 83(4), 551-97.

Kimball, E.W., Wells, R.S., Ostiguy, B.J., Manly, C.A. & Lauterbach, A.A. (2016). Students with Disabilities in Higher Education: A Review of the Literature and an Agenda for Future Research.

Mann, R., Kenny, N., Bell, J. & Gower, R. (2015). First Expert Student’s Resources. Harlow: Pearson.

Miller, O., Keil, S. & Cobb, R. (2005). Review of the literature on accessible curricula, qualifications and assessment. Report submitted to the Disability Rights Commission. Disability Rights Commission.

Red SAPDU, Red de Servicios de Apoyo a Personas con Discapacidad en la Universidad, Fundación Once. (n.d.). Guía de adaptaciones en la universidad.

UN General Assembly. (2007). Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 24 January 2007, A/RES/61/106. Retrieved from: (30/01/2020)

Unitat de Suport Educatiu. (2015). “Guia d’atenció a La Diversitat.”

Vickerman, P. & Blundell, M. (2010). Hearing the Voices of Disabled Students in Higher Education. Disability and Society, 25(1), 21–32.

United Nations. (1948). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948-1998. New York: United Nations Dept. of Public Information.

How to Cite
Martínez-Hernández, A.-I., & Bellés-Fortuño, B. (2021). Accommodating the Syllabus to Visually Impaired Students in the English Language Classroom: Challenges and Concerns . International Journal of English Studies, 21(1), 75–92.