No one likes rejection. But if you’re denied accommodations or unsatisfied with the accommodations you were granted, you can make an appeal. To craft a petition for appeal, it’s really important to know why your initial request was rejected. ETS sends every student a letter of explanation if a request is denied. If your denial was a result of insufficient documentation, you can correct any shortcomings and resubmit your request for an accommodated test. Sometimes, the documentation is sufficient, however, it indicates that the nature and severity of the disability doesn’t warrant some or even all of the accommodations that you’ve requested. Your letter may state that there’s no “substantial or functional limitation in learning”. Remember, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), not every impairment is considered a disability. In order for any impairment to qualify as a disability under the ADA, it has to be “substantially limiting” to a major life activity (seeing, talking, hearing, learning, walking, etc.). As a result, having a disability or a diagnosis alone may not be enough to support the need for testing accommodations. Your documentation needs to prove that the disability significantly impacts the way you perform a major life activity compared to the average student before any accommodation can even be considered. To appeal this decision, you’ll need to complete some additional testing so that you can update or supplement parts of your existing documentation. From there, get in contact with the Special Education Coordinator at your high school. He or she will help you put together the necessary documentation for an appeal.
In my experience, the staff in Disability Services makes every effort to provide students and their families with specific information about why the documentation is not sufficient and how they can update it. If you have any complaints, contact ETS directly. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to them at ETS Disability Services, P.O. Bos 6054, Princeton, NJ 08541-6054.
Heather Creech, M.A. CCC-SLP