Advancing equity in language assessment for learners with disabilities
Language Testing, 2023-05-27
Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become a unifying cause within applied linguistics. Whether highlighting the experiences of linguistically diverse learners across the social class spectrum or advocating for the inclusion of marginalized populations in research, researchers within the subfields of applied linguistics have firmly taken up the DEI cause. However, one population is sparsely addressed, and this requires substantial attention. The disabled community includes a range of demographics with a variety of needs. In this article, we provide a historical commentary on the establishment of equity for the disabled community within the United States, applied linguistics, and the wider language testing field. We then offer a framework for advancing equity through a reflective process, along with two examples. The first focuses on the terminology used to reference this population and the ongoing process of respectful representation within published work. The second gives nuance by discussing testing accommodations for individuals with autism spectrum disorder to contextualize a subgroup of the disabled community within language testing. We hope that the information provided will encourage the language testing field to continue to consider the disabled community in the field’s efforts to advance equity through equitable assessment practices.