Academics - Students with Special Needs
When determining whether a student with special needs can compete in UIL academic events, we look at the needs of all the contestants and ask the following questions:
- Can the student compete at the same time as the other contestants?
- Does the student who has to be given special consideration gain an advantage?
- Does the student who has to be given special consideration cause the other contestants to work at a disadvantage?
Requesting Special Needs Modifications
UIL staff members will make some adaptations for students with special needs and 504 competitors on an individual request basis. The request must be in writing on school stationery, and the conditions of the adaptations must adhere to the following criteria:
- the student must be able to compete at the same time as the other contestants in his or her district or region;
- the student who is given special consideration does not gain an advantage over other contestants; and
- the student who is given the special consideration does not cause the other contestants to work at a disadvantage.
The use of a brailler or computer in writing and spelling competitions, enlarged test copy, or use of a magnifying glass may be made for a visually impaired student. However, a request to give a student an extra 15 minutes in ready writing will be denied.
The request for special needs adaptation should be made at least two weeks prior to the contest. Only one response letter is needed from UIL for the adaptation to be permitted at any level of spring meet academic competition. However, if the student advances to the next higher meet, it is the responsibility of the student's school to notify the regional or state office immediately.
The individual school district is responsible for making arrangements for tests to be typed in Braille or enlarged through the special education cooperative or other facility which services the student with the handicapping condition. The school district is also responsible for providing equipment and translators where needed to enable the adaptation. Contest directors or district directors may enlarge copy for special needs contestants upon receipt of an adaptation letter.
Visual Impairments / Dyslexia
The district meet host may enlarge a test or tests to accommodate visually impaired students. For students who need contests Brailled, the UIL will provide a copy of the test to the appropriate school administrator, whose responsibility it is to have the contest Brailled, to maintain strict contest confidentiality and to provide the Brailled contest to the district meet academic contest director in a timely manner.
Students who need region or State Meet contests Brailled must submit a formal request to the UIL state academic director at least two weeks prior to the contest.
Motor Skills Impairments
Students with motor skills impairments may be granted special needs modifications. For example, students with muscular dystrophy may be allowed to use laptop computers to compose their current issues & events essays. Requests are handled on a case-by-case basis. Full documentation of rationale for allowing this modification is required.
Under special circumstances, students may be allowed to take their contest in a room separate from the other competitors. Requests are handled on a case-by-case basis. Full documentation of rationale for allowing this modification is required.
Under no circumstances will students be allowed additional time to complete a contest, even if the student's IEP allows him or her additional time to complete basic coursework and standardized tests.
Alteration of Judging Criteria
Under no circumstances will the UIL alter a contest's judging criteria. For example, a request not to penalize a student for spelling on the written portion of the literary criticism contest will be denied since it assumes that the student would have spelled every word correctly. This would give the student an advantage over the other contestants.
Question: We have a German exchange student who does not speak English very well. We are requesting a special needs modification that would allow him to use a German-English dictionary in the science contest.
Response: Denied. The biology portion of the science contest contains questions that require students to know specific terms. Use of a dictionary would give this student an advantage over other students.