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Accommodation and Compliance Series:
Testing Accommodations

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Introduction

JAN’s Accommodation and Compliance Series is designed to help employers determine effective accommodations and comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each publication in the series addresses a specific medical condition and provides information about the condition, ADA information, accommodation ideas, and resources for additional information.

The Accommodation and Compliance Series is a starting point in the accommodation process and may not address every situation. Accommodations should be made on a case by case basis, considering each employee’s individual limitations and accommodation needs. Employers are encouraged to contact JAN to discuss specific situations in more detail.

For information on assistive technology and other accommodation ideas, visit JAN's Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR) at http://askjan.org/soar.

Terminology

Individuals with disabilities can have many different types of limitations that affect their abilities to take tests. These individuals may need accommodations when taking employment exams, standardized tests, licensure exams, and classroom exams. Individuals with disabilities who are protected by disability legislation (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act) can ask for, and receive, accommodations in order to take tests. Those who have called JAN regarding testing accommodations report having one or more of the following conditions, diagnoses, or limitations. This list is NOT a list of disabilities covered under the ADA, nor is it an all-inclusive list of disabling conditions for which test-takers would need accommodations.

Questions and Answers

The following questions are typical testing accommodation questions received at JAN’s national toll-free hotline. A JAN consultant who is familiar with various types of disabilities and who is familiar with the ADA and other disability legislation crafted the responses. These responses are not guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and are not intended to be legal advice.

For more information on employment testing, read the EEOC’s Title I Technical Assistance Manual, Chapter 5.6 online at http://askjan.org/links/ADAtam1.html#V.

For more information on examinations or courses, read the Department of Justice’s Title III Technical Assistance Manual, Chapter 4.6 online at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/taman3.html.

What is alternative format?
Alternative format is any format that is different from the existing test. Alternative format may be: large print, Braille, color-coded text, audio (reader, tape/cd, or computer).
What is extended time?
Extended time means allowing the test-taker extra time to complete the test. The amount of extended time should be correlated to the test-taker’s disability or limitations. Common examples of extended time include: time and a half, double time, and unlimited time.
What is a reader?
A reader is a person who reads the test to the test-taker. This person should be familiar with the terminology or language used on the test. A reader does not interpret, re-word, or explain the test. A reader reads the test directions, questions, and answer choices to the test-taker.
What is a scribe?
A scribe is a person who writes down, or otherwise records, the test-taker’s responses. The scribe does not create answers for the test-taker or help the test-taker identify correct answers. The scribe simply writes the test-taker’s answers down on the test or answer sheet.
What type of tests will people need accommodations for?
A person with a disability can ask for an accommodation on any exam. Some examples of exams are: teaching license exams, driver’s license exams, college entrance exams, exams in college or technical school, employment tests, and typing tests.
Who can ask for accommodations in testing?
Individuals with disabilities that inhibit their abilities to take tests can ask for an accommodation.
How does a person with disability ask for a testing accommodation?
A person with a disability can ask for an accommodation when registering to take a test. Oftentimes, the testing company provides testing accommodation forms to submit. The individual can also make a request verbally or in writing. The person with a disability is responsible for providing documentation of a disability, and the individual can describe the type of accommodation that will be effective.
Do testing accommodations cost the test-taker extra money?
No. The test-taker needing an accommodation pays the same cost as any person taking the same test.
Will test scores or standards be lowered/changed/altered for person with disability?
Generally, no. If all test-takers must obtain a certain “passing score,” so must the test-taker with a disability. The test-taker with a disability may need an accommodation to help meet the standard, but the standard does not have to be lowered, changed, or altered.

One exception to this rule is a situation where the test standard is arbitrary or is not related to the educational or employment requirements. For example, an employee must be able to type 40 words per minute to pass an employment test, but typing is not an essential function of the job.

Will a person with a disability be granted a “test exemption” as an accommodation?
Generally, no. If the test is a requirement of the application process, the job, class or program, or licensing credentials, the test-taker with a disability will probably have to take the test. The test-taker with a disability may, however, ask for an accommodation to assist with the taking the test.

Accommodations

Note: People with disabilities may experience limitations in cognitive abilities, motor abilities, and sensory abilities that can affect test-taking performance. People who have disabilities may have some or all of the limitations listed below. The degree of limitation will vary from individual to individual along with accommodation(s) provided.

Limitations in Cognitive/Neurological Abilities

Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with: TBI, MS, MR, fibromyalgia, LD, ADD or ADHD, cancer, and psychological impairments.


Memory: Test-takers may have difficulty remembering events or activities on the day of the test. 

Lack of Concentration or Organization: Test-takers may be distracted or disorganized when taking a test.  Possible accommodations include:

Time Management/Performing or Completing Tasks: Test-takers may be unable to complete or perform tasks in a timely manner or meet timelines.  Possible accommodations include: 

Reading Print Material: Test-takers may be unable to read test materials.   Possible accommodations include:

Writing words, sentences, or paragraphs:  Test-takers may be unable to construct written responses as required on the test.  Potential accommodations include:

Performing Mathematical Calculations: Test-takers may be unable to “do math” as required on the test.  Possible accommodations include:

Limitations in Motor Abilities

Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with TBI,  MS, MD, fibromyalgia, paraplegia, quadriplegia, amputations, cancer, CP, back conditions, little people, and people who are obese.

Sitting:  Test-takers may have difficulty sitting for long periods of time while taking a test. Test-takers may also have difficulty sitting in a traditional chair or desk.   Possible accommodations include:

Writing:  Test-takers may have difficulty physically writing responses or recording answers as required by the test.  Possible accommodations include:

Turning Pages: Test-takers may have difficulty turning pages of the test booklet, or holding the test booklet open.   Potential accommodations include:

Typing:  Test-takers may have difficulty typing responses.   Possible accommodations include:

Limitations in Sensory Abilities

Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people who are deaf or hearing impaired, blind or visually impaired, have TBIs, Expressive Language Disorders, or Auditory Processing Disorders.

Hearing:  Test-takers may have difficulty hearing in the testing environment.  Possible accommodations include:

Seeing:  Test-takers may have difficulty seeing the test or test materials, or other visuals in the testing environment.   Potential accommodations include:

Communicating:  Test-takers may have difficulty communicating in the testing environment.   Possible accommodations include:

Other Limitations

Panic Attacks: Test-takers may experience panic attacks during test administration. Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with ADD and psychological impairments.  Possible accommodations include:

Diarrhea/Vomiting/Nausea: Test-takers may have difficulty managing bodily functions. Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with psychological impairments, MS, MD, intestinal disorders, and cancer.  Possible accommodations include:

Headaches:  Test-takers may experience mild to severe headaches during the testing administration. Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with migraines, vision impairments, and psychological impairments.  Potential accommodations include:

Fatigue:  Test-takers may experience mild to severe fatigue during the testing administration. Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, and cancer.  Possible accommodations include:

Temperature Sensitivity: Test-taker may get hot or cold during testing administration.  Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with fibromyalgia, cancer, MS, MD, and circulatory disorders.  Possible accommodations include.

Chemical Sensitivity: Test-takers may experience mild to severe reactions to chemicals, fragrances, or perfumes. Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with multiple chemical sensitivity, asthma, and migraine headaches.  Potential accommodations include:

Dietary needs:  Test-takers may need to eat, drink, or take medications during the test administration. Test-takers who may need the following accommodations include people with diabetes, cancer, intestinal disorders, and psychiatric impairments.

Resources

Updated 10/14/05

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