Accommodations Toolkit

Highlighting: States' Accessibility Policies, 2022

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National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)

This summary of states’ accessibility policies for highlighting is part of the Accommodations Toolkit published by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)[1]. The toolkit also contains a summary of the research literature on highlighting.

Accessibility policies often have several tiers of accessibility features: universal features, designated features, and accommodations[2]. Figure 1 summarizes how states included highlighter in their accessibility policies for students with disabilities in 2022. Table 1 shows how highlighter was included in the policies, while Table 2 contains additional details and specifications.

Figure 1. States’ Accessibility Policies for Students with Disabilities for Highlighting, 2022

Reading/ELA/Writing

  • Universal Features (U): 44 States
  • Designated Features (D): 4 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Math

  • Universal Features (U): 44 States
  • Designated Features (D): 4 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Science

  • Universal Features (U): 41 States
  • Designated Features (D): 4 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Table 1. Accommodations Policies for Highlighting by State, 2022

U = Universal Feature, D = Designated Feature, A = Accommodation, ELA = English Language Arts, X = Allowed, SD = Allowed for Students with Disabilities, Blank cell = no policy found, N = Notes in Table 2

State

Reading/ELA/Writing

Math

Science

Notes

(See Table 2)

U

D

A

U

D

A

U

D

A

Alabama

X

X

X

N

Alaska

X

X

X

N

Arizona

X

X

N

Arkansas

X

X

X

X

X

X

N

California

X

X

X

N

Colorado

X

X

X

Connecticut

X

X

X

N

Delaware

X

X

X

N

District of Columbia

X

X

X

N

Florida

SD

SD

SD

N

Georgia

X

X

X

N

Hawaii

X

X

N

Idaho

X

X

X

N

Illinois

X

X

X

N

Indiana

X

X

X

N

Iowa

X

X

X

N

Kansas

X

X

X

N

Kentucky

X

X

X

Louisiana

X

X

X

N

Maine

Maryland

X

X

X

N

Massachusetts

X

X

X

N

Michigan

X

X

X

N

Minnesota

X

X

X

N

Mississippi

X

X

X

N

Missouri

X

X

X

N

Montana

X

X

X

N

Nebraska

X

X

X

N

Nevada

X

X

N

New Hampshire

X

X

X

N

New Jersey

X

X

X

N

New Mexico

X

X

X

New York

SD

SD

SD

N

North Carolina

X

X

X

North Dakota

X

X

X

N

Ohio

X

X

X

N

Oklahoma

Oregon

X

X

X

N

Pennsylvania

X

X

X

N

Rhode Island

X

X

X

N

South Carolina

X

X

X

N

South Dakota

X

X

X

N

Tennessee

X

X

X

N

Texas

X

X

X

N

Utah

X

SD

X

SD

X

SD

N

Vermont

X

X

X

N

Virginia

SD

SD

SD

N

Washington

X

X

X

N

West Virginia

X

X

X

N

Wisconsin

X

X

X

X

x

X

N

Wyoming

X

X

X

N

Total (Stutdents with Disabilities

44

4

4

44

4

4

41

4

4

Table 2. Details and Specifications: States' Highlighting Accessibility Policies

State

Details/Specifications

Alabama

Universal Feature:

For online, the student will select the highlighter button using mouse control. For paper, the student will use the preferred tool.

Alaska

Universal Feature:

Student may use a highlighter to highlight desired assessment questions or selections.

Arizona

Universal Feature:

Highlight text in a passage or item. Four colors are available for highlighting text.

Arkansas

Universal Feature (Computer-Based Testing), Designated Feature (Paper-Based Testing):

Examinees may draw attention to sections of text by marking them with a color. Examinees with visual or reading impairments who benefit from using a controlled color method for focusing, in everyday or academic settings. Highlighters may not be used on the answer document, as it may interfere with the scoring equipment.

California

Universal Feature:

The highlighter is a digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, and item answers or parts of them with a color.

Connecticut

Universal Feature:

This is a digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

Delaware

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

District of Columbia

Accessibility Feature (Universal Feature):

Student uses various markup tools to assist in reading, recalling, and/or emphasizing text, and to flag items for later review. Markup tools can include highlighters, templates, place markers, masking devices, colored overlays, reading guide rulers, blank straight edges or onscreen tools to follow along with each line of text, electronic bookmarking tools.

The student electronically highlights text as needed to recall and/or emphasize. The student has the option to remove highlighting over text. The highlighter color option will change depending on the color contrast option selected.

Florida

Accommodation:

A student may use a highlighter to highlight key words or phrases in directions, passages, prompts, items, and answer choices. If a highlighter is used on a scannable document and the ink is visible on a response area (e.g., writing response, answer bubble), responses must be transcribed into a replacement document.

Georgia

Universal Feature:

The student uses this digital feature for marking desired text, items, or response options with a color.

Hawaii

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

Idaho

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

Illinois

Accessibility Feature (Universal Feature):

Computer-based testing: The student electronically highlights text as needed to recall and/or emphasize. The student has the option to remove highlighting over text. The highlighter color option will change depending on the color contrast option selected.

Paper-based testing: The student highlights text as needed to recall and/or emphasize. Multiple colors may be provided.

Indiana

Universal Feature:

Computer-based testing: Used for marking desired text, item questions, and item answers in transparent colors on the screen.

Paper-based testing: Students can mark desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a transparent color.

Iowa

Universal Feature:

In the online system, the highlighter feature allows the student to highlight a word or group of words. The student has the option to remove highlighting and select from two highlight color options that change depending on the color contrast option selected. Students who are taking the paper form may be provided a physical highlighter.

Kansas

Universal Feature:

Allows students to select text on the screen and highlight the selected text with a pink background.

Louisiana

Universal Feature:

Paper-based testing: Students may be provided with a non-carbon-based yellow highlighter.

Computer-based testing: This is the online tool used to highlight a portion of an item, text, or a graphic. The highlighter tool can be used virtually anywhere within the item to highlight passage text, item text, answer options, portions of graphics and images, and text within images.

Maryland

Universal Feature:

A highlighter, like other visual organizers, is a way for a student to maintain his or her focus on specific sections of an assignment or on an assessment. Visual organizers may also be helpful to students who have difficulty with the acquisition, retrieval, or organization of learning. The use of such tools or strategies should be student initiated, rather than teacher initiated. The student electronically highlights text as needed to recall and/or emphasize. The student has the option to remove highlighting over text. The highlighter color option will change depending on the color contrast option selected.

Massachusetts

Universal Feature:

Computer-based testing: Four highlighter colors are offered: blue, pink, green, and orange.

Paper-based testing: Colored highlighters and/or colored pencils may be used by students taking paper-based tests.

Michigan

Universal Feature:

Depending on the mode of the assessment being administered (online or paper/pencil), the highlighter may be a digital or physical tool for marking desired text, item questions, or item answers with a yellow color. When taking the paper/pencil assessment, students may use a non-embedded highlighter only in the test booklets and never on the answer documents. This tool may help students retain focus on a particular segment of text, or can be used to mark specific text in order to return to it later.

Minnesota

Universal Feature:

Student uses provided materials while testing; these should be provided to students who have used them in instructional or other assessment settings.

Mississippi

Universal Feature:

Use of highlighter by student in test booklet.

Missouri

Universal Feature:

The INSIGHT student platform provides all students access to an embedded highlighter for marking desired text. All students may have access to a physical highlighter.

Montana

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

Nebraska

Universal Feature:

The student uses this feature for marking desired text, items, or response options with a color.

Nevada

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

New Hampshire

Universal Feature:

A digital tool marking desired text, items, answers, or parts of the above with a color. Highlighted text remains highlighted through a pause. Students may use this embedded tool to help visually organize information.

New Jersey

Accessibility Feature (Universal Feature):

The student electronically highlights text as needed to recall and/or emphasize. The student has the option to remove highlighting over text. The highlighter color option will change depending on the color contrast option selected.

New York

Accommodation:

Student highlights key words in questions.

North Dakota

Universal Feature:

The learner uses this digital or physical tool for marking desired text, items, or response options with a color.

Ohio

Universal Feature:

The student highlights text. By default, the highlighter tool is turned on. The test administrator can adjust this setting in the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE) and the Test Administrator Interface.

Oregon

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color.

Pennsylvania

Universal Feature:

The following online tools are available to all online test-takers as part of the test format as allowable for each section: Pointer, cross-off pencil, highlighter, sticky note, magnifier, line guide, calculator, graphing tool, ruler, formula sheets & conversion tables

Rhode Island

Universal Feature:

Embedded: The embedded highlighter tool is used for marking desired text with a color. Highlighted text remains available through the test segment. Defaulted to ON for all students.

Non-embedded: Student uses their preferred writing tool(s) to mark specific text in the test booklet. Highlighters, highlighter tape, page flags, and reading guides are all acceptable.

South Carolina

Universal Feature:

A tool that the student can use to mark specific text in the test booklet. Online test: student can select highlighter tool from menu. Paper/pencil: student may use their preferred writing tool to mark specific test in test booklet only, not on the answer document.

South Dakota

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

Tennessee

Accessibility Feature (Designated Feature):

Students may use a highlighter to highlight text in a passage or item in their test book as needed to recall and/or emphasize. Highlighter must be yellow.

Texas

Universal Feature:

Making the following assistive tools available: various types of highlighters, colored pencils, or any other tool that can be used to focus attention on text

Utah

Universal Feature (Online Testing), Accommodation (Paper Testing):

Highlighting, providing visual cues, and using markers, arrows, and stickers, may draw attention to key words or content in instruction. These resources may or may not be applicable or available for assessments.

Vermont

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

Virginia

Accommodation:

Students may be provided additional (3 or more) writing implements such as, but not limited to: highlighters, markers, colored pens, colored pencils, etc. The student may use the additional markers, highlighters, colored pencils, and/or pens in the test booklet or on his/her scratch paper; however, these items must not be used anywhere on the student’s answer document. The additional markers, highlighters, colored pens, and/or pencils must be provided to the student at the beginning of the session and must be used independently without assistance from the examiner.

Washington

Universal Feature:

Allows the student to mark desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

West Virginia

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color. Highlighted text remains available throughout each test segment.

Wisconsin

Universal Feature (Computer-Based Testing), Designated Feature (Paper-Based Testing):

Examinees may draw attention to sections of text by marking them with a color. Examinees with visual or reading impairments who benefit from using a controlled color method for focusing, in everyday or academic settings. Highlighters may not be used on the answer document, as it may interfere with the scoring equipment.

Wyoming

Universal Feature:

A digital tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color.

Attribution

All rights reserved. Any or all portions of this document may be reproduced and distributed without prior permission, provided the source is cited as:

  • Quanbeck, M., Lazarus, S. S., & Goldstone, L. (2022). Highlighting: States’ accessibility policies, 2022 (NCEO Accommodations Toolkit #19b). National Center on Educational Outcomes.

The Center is supported through a Cooperative Agreement (#H326G210002) with the Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. The Center is affiliated with the Institute on Community Integration at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. Consistent with EDGAR §75.62, the contents of this report were developed under the Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. Department of Education, but do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the U.S. Department of Education or Offices within it. Readers should not assume endorsement by the federal government.