Reasonable accommodation has long been recognized as an essential component of the hiring process, including the administration of assessments.
Additionally, it is legally mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the ADA does not define reasonable accommodation, it provides a list of examples of what might constitute a reasonable accommodation. With respect to testing accommodation, the ADA requires that tests be given to people with impaired sensory or manual skills in a format and manner that minimizes the impact of any impaired skill on test results, unless the test is designed to measure that particular skill. Additionally, a major gist of the ADA is that reasonable accommodation is not effectively addressed by a general policy; rather accommodations are best addressed only on a case-by-case basis. Finally, an accommodation may be refused if it would fundamentally alter what the test measures (e.g., using a calculator to complete a test designed to evaluate math skills).
Once it has been determined that the prospective employee has a disability that is covered by the ADA, the organization should initiate discussions with the individual to help identify an appropriate reasonable accommodation. While appropriate accommodations are best determined on an individual basis, and our psychologists are always available to provide insight during this process, some common accommodations for disabled applicants include:
- Providing extra or unlimited time to complete the test
- Providing rest breaks for test takers
- Assuring that the test site is accessible to a person with a mobility issue
- Providing paper and pencil, rather than Internet-delivered assessments
- Allowing the test taker to have a reader to read test questions and record answers
- Providing small group or individual testing sessions
Parenthetically, a common question our support teams receive is whether test anxiety is an impairment that should trigger consideration of reasonable accommodation. Since the ADA’s definition of disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual, test anxiety falls short of being a disability and does not require reasonable accommodation.
While this discussion is certainly far from exhaustive regarding the issues that surround reasonable accommodation, it does highlight arguably the most important aspect of the process—it needs to be interactive.
What are your questions about reasonable testing accommodations for test takers?