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Posts Tagged ‘disability’

Taking Psychometric Tests with a Hearing Impairment

How might a hearing impairment affect your performance?

People with hearing difficulties may be disadvantaged in job selection processes which use psychometric tests to identify the most able candidates. Hearing problems can impact test performance in many ways. For example, candidates may struggle to understand the verbal instructions which often accompany psychometric tests. Furthermore, people who have been without hearing from childhood and primarily use sign language may be less familiar with the English language and, therefore, particularly disadvantaged on tests requiring reading (e.g. verbal reasoning tests) and writing.

How can employers help?

In line with the Disability and Discrimination Act 1995, employers are required to make necessary amendments to ensure candidates with hearing impairments are not disadvantaged by selection processes.  The British Psychological Society (BPS) has yet to develop specific guidelines for testing hearing impaired candidates; however, they outline some of the main considerations in their publication: Psychometric Testing for people with a hearing impairment (BPS, 2010). Here, the BPS recommends that employers:

  • Seek advice from test publishers in regard to what amendments can be made.
  • Make any adjustments on a case by case basis, according to the specific needs of the candidate.
  • Use sign language interpreters for giving instructions and facilitating the test environment but not for interpreting questions on written tests.
  • Provide written instructions if candidates are able to read.
  • Offer candidates practice questions, in order to anticipate potential test difficulties.

How can you help?

If you have a hearing impairment, it is vital that you inform the employer as far in advance as possible, so that they can make the necessary arrangements for you. Try and be specific about the nature of your hearing difficulty and what aids could help you. You might also like to familiarise yourself with the different types of psychometric tests you will be expected to take so that you can anticipate what adjustments would be most helpful to you.  At AssessmentDay you can download a range of practice tests, including verbal reasoning tests, numerical reasoning tests and inductive reasoning tests.

Visual Impairment and Taking Psychometric Tests

What is visual impairment and why does it cause difficulties?

Visual impairment refers to a wide spectrum of sight difficulties and can range from partial sightedness through to blindness. A visually impaired person is considered to have irretrievable loss or distortion of vision which may be improved but not easily corrected by glasses or contact lenses.

The highly visual nature of psychometric tests is likely to present a visually impaired candidate with difficulties. For example, they may struggle to read the instructions, see the test stimuli, scan text, switch focus and discriminate between different colours (colour blindness). As such, these candidates may be unfairly disadvantaged across a large majority of aptitude tests; including numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, inductive reasoning, as well as more real-life tasks, such as the in-tray exercise.

How can employers help?

Under the Disability and Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010, employers are required to make necessary amendments to ensure that their selection processes do not discriminate against persons who have significantly impaired vision.  The amendments that employers make to psychometric tests will largely depend on the tools and strategies that the candidate is already familiar with. Furthermore, employers must be careful not to make adjustments which invalidate the test. Examples of adjustments might include:

  • Using Braille in place of text
  • Transcribing tests into audio versions
  • Using assistants to read out text and record answers
  • Using larger fonts or magnification screens and devices

These amendments may lengthen response times and so candidates may need to be awarded extra time.

What do the psychometric testing guidelines say?

The British Psychological Society (BPS) has developed guidelines to advise those administering psychometric tests with people who are visually impaired:  Visual Impairment and Psychometric Testing (BPS, 2007). The BPS recommends that employers investigate the nature and severity of the visual impairment and consult with chartered psychologists or test publishers before making any test amendments.

Click here to read the full guidelines: Visual Impairment

Dyslexia and Psychometric Testing for Employers

Employers must be careful not to unlawfully discriminate using psychometric tests

The Disability Discrimination Act, which came into force in 1995, requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to ensure a fair selection process for potential candidates.  Given the growing popularity of aptitude tests within selection procedures, employers are expected to accommodate the needs of candidates whose test performance may be impacted by sensory impairments or other conditions.

People with dyslexia may be particularly disadvantaged by psychometric tests. Dyslexia is most commonly associated with impaired literacy skills; however, people may also present with difficulties in memory and speed of processing. As such, it is acknowledged that these candidates are at risk of performing poorly on psychometric tests if necessary amendments are not made, particularly on literacy-based tests (e.g. verbal reasoning tests).  The inherent danger is that candidates with dyslexia will not be given the opportunity to demonstrate their true abilities, and therefore, their suitability for the vacant position.

What do the psychometric testing guidelines say?

With this in mind, the British Psychology Society (BPS) has developed guidelines to advise those administering psychometric tests to people with dyslexia: Dyslexia and Occupational Testing (BPS, 2006). This document recommends that employers:

  • Provide all candidates with the opportunity to discuss difficulties that might impact on their test performance.
  • Ask candidates with dyslexia about the specific nature and severity of their difficulties.
  • Consider making necessary amendments which are specific to the individual needs of the candidate, e.g. additional time.
  • Consult with a chartered psychologist or with the test publishers to discuss potential amendments which will not invalidate the test.
  • Consider alternative methods of assessing the same skill, e.g. real-life work situations.

Click on the link to read the BPS guidelines in full: Dyslexia and Occupational Testing.

Dyslexia and Taking Psychometric Tests

Why might dyslexia cause you difficulties?

Dyslexia can cause difficulties in reading, writing and spelling. It has also been associated with impairments in working memory, processing speed, perception and motor skills.  These skills and functions are called upon when potential employees are asked to complete aptitude tests as part of the recruitment process.  It is possible then that candidates with dyslexia are somewhat disadvantaged in this process, particularly when undertaking literacy-based psychometric tests (e.g. verbal reasoning and verbal comprehension tests).

How can you help the employer help you?

In line with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, employers are aware of their legal responsibility to select candidates through a fair and non-discriminatory system.  However, as a candidate, there are a number of steps you can take to help your potential employers make the necessary amendments.

Firstly, it is important to inform the organisation as soon as possible that you have dyslexia. They may want to ask you further details on your diagnosis and the severity of your difficulties. It is commonly understood that dyslexia affects each individual differently and so it is likely that your potential employers will want to know the specific impact on you and your test performance. It may also be useful to inform them about adjustments made for you during previous test or exam situations (e.g. increased time allowance or the use of a scribe).

What next?

Finally, it can be beneficial to familiarise yourself with the types of aptitude tests you will be expected to complete. At AssessmentDay, we have a range of practice papers that will enable you to experience different kinds of psychometric tests; including verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and inductive reasoning. This will allow both you to anticipate what, if any, difficulties you may encounter on the assessment day and will give you a great opportunity to practice your skills.