FAQ Getting Advice on Testing People with Disabilities
Estimates suggest that some 16% of the working age population in the UK have a disability. Therefore, when assessing people for employment using psychometric tests there is a growing likelihood that an individual with a disability will be one of the applicants. In this situation it is imperative that the user balances proper standardised test administration with the need for effective assessment of someone with a disability and the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995). This requires knowledge of relevant disability issues, knowledge of testing, appropriate testing policy, procedures and processes and a flexible approach.
It is not necessary for a test user to be expert in all these areas as long as correct processes are in place for accessing appropriate expertise if and when it is needed. This requires some preparation when an assessment process is set up. This should cover the following areas:
- Ensure that test policy covers reasonable adjustments to testing processes for candidates with a disability.
- Provide appropriate training for all test users and other recruiters.
- Make sure test procedures are appropriate and particularly that:
candidates with a disability know who to contact regarding requests for reasonable adjustments
test administrators know what to do when a request for adjustments is received.
- List of contact details for relevant experts, advisors, special equipment etc.
With these in place, the test user should be able to deal effectively with requests for adjustments as and when they occur.
There are many sources of advice and information available concerning both disability generally and test use for people with disabilities. The British Psychological Society's Committee on Test Standards has developed guidance on testing people with dyslexia.
Most test publishers provide advice on adapting their tests and some can also provide alternative format materials (e.g. tests in Braille). Many will provide free guidelines on the subject. There are organisations that provide information and support for people with specific disabilities as well as organisations that deal with more general disability issues, or specialise in employment issues. They are often good sources of information on obtaining equipment or specialists such as sign language interpreters. There are a number of psychologists with expertise in both testing and disability who can provide advice and consultancy in both general testing matters and with specific candidates.
Below is a list of different guides, websites and references that can help you access information.
International Testing Commission ITC guidelines provides standards of test use including appendix on testing people with disabilities.
American Educational Research Association (AERA), American Psychological Association (APA) and National Council on Measurement in Education Standards (NCME) provides the standards for educational and psychological testing
Washington, DC: American educational research association provides detailed booklet of US standards for use of tests. Includes elements on testing people with disabilities. Only available in hard copy.
British Psychological Society - Directory of Chartered Psychologists - search for psychologists in the 'occupational or educational' area with appropriate key words (e.g. 'disab', 'dyslexia') as additional information to find those who can advise on testing people with disabilities.
Test Publisher Advice and Guidelines
Test Publishers provide specific advice and details on testing people with disabilities and you should consult their websites or contact them directly for further advice.
Please visit the Directory of Test Publishers & Test Distributors for details.
Organisations specialising in disability
Equality & Human Rights Commission - EHRC - guidance for employers describes the areas in which discrimination in employment can arise, who it affects and how employers can prevent it.
Employers Forum on Disability - EFD publications list provides a number of useful publications on general issues (e.g. communication) as well as employment issues for specific disabilities.
RNIB - RNIB employers guide and RNIB candidate guide provides detailed guides from the RNIB on testing people with visual impairment. One is aimed at employers and one especially for candidates. Available via the web and also in hard copy in variable format.
Blind in Business - employers service provides free advice and support in assessing and adjusting working conditions for candidates with disabilities.
Australian National University - Guidelines on adapting oral exams neither a disability organisation nor aimed at employers, but these detailed guidelines on adapting oral exams contain some useful hints on assessing people with disabilities.
While we have endeavoured to find reputable sources the British Psychological Society makes no claims for the accuracy of guidance provided by other sources.