Proofreading is a reasonable modification that some students with disabilities are eligible to use so they can enjoy a "level playing field" in their classes and programs. The emphasis of modifications is on access, not on outcome. The student with a disability is responsible for the outcome of his/her assignments.

Proofreading is typically used for class assignments and written exams.Please note that a proofreader obtained through the Disability Services for Students office is not a trained professional.

What is a proofreader?

According to the Random House Dictionary, the definition of "Proofreading" is to read to detect and mark errors in order to be corrected.  Proofreading differs from editing, which is to correct, revise, or adapt a writing material in order to make it suitable or acceptable. Editing includes error corrections in spelling, punctuation, grammar, organization, and sentence structure.

A proofreader can:

  • Detect and mark suspected errors in writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, writing format such as margin and spacing, and sentence structure).

A proofreader cannot:

  • Correct errors or suggest answers.
  • Assist the student in improving his/her paper for better content, development, organization, mechanics, and diction.
  • Critique student's writing.

Students with a disability who utilizes a proofreader as a modification, the students should be aware of what a proofreader can and cannot do, prior to the request. When they ask for proofreading, let your proofreader know what specific problems (such as spelling and punctuation) they encounter when composing written work. When proofreading is completed, they should ask the proofreader to point out where errors are located.

The Writing Center is available for improving your writing skills.

When being hired or assigned as a proofreader, the proofreaders should be fully familiar with their duties and inform the student of them.  Ask the student what particular areas they should detect and mark suspected errors in his/her writing. After proofreading, it is a good idea to meet with the student and show him/her where and why they have marked the errors.