During our recent PARtalks webinar series on assessing individuals with disabilities, PAR received some questions about adapting, modifying, and accommodating assessments. It is important to be mindful of a range of psychometric, social, clinical, and disability-related issues. We hope the following will provide helpful guidance when determining if modifications or accommodations are necessary.
There are many issues to consider that may complicate the psychological testing of people with disabilities. It is important to attend to issues of bias, reliability, and validity.
Language, motor, sensory, medical, and cognitive disabilities can impact aspects of an assessment. Additionally, comorbid conditions or secondary disabilities can be a complicating factor.
It is crucial for examiners to consider each individual's disability and how it relates to other functions to develop a strategy that ensures the appropriate construct is being measured. For example, disability-related symptoms such as fatigue and pain can confound psychometric tests and artificially inflate measures of depression. Or a motor-functioning disability that affects fine motor control may create results that mistakenly imply cognitive impairment. Examiners who do not take these issues into consideration risk drawing misleading inferences, making inaccurate conclusions, and offering unsuitable treatment recommendations.
To determine if an instrument is suitable for use with a client with a disability, clinicians must evaluate if the measure(s) being considered are appropriate for use without introducing accessibility challenges. If the construct to be measured will be measured in a way that requires a specific functional ability that is related to the client’s disability, or if the measure’s administration instructions and response options are related to the client’s impairment, for example, another measure may be considered.
The clinician should consider validity information regarding a measure’s use with people with specific disabilities, just as they would for any other population. Quantitative measures should be supplemented by qualitative and functional assessments. Before testing, it is important to meet with the client to understand disability-specific characteristics related to the constructs of interest. It is the clinician's responsibility to describe the assessment and subsequent results in terms that the client can easily understand.
Any decisions to modify protocols requires thoughtful consideration and justification but may be useful ways to support individuals with disabilities. There are two types of alterations to testing, accommodations and modifications. Accommodations improve access to the test without affecting the construct being measured. Modifications may affect the construct and may influence validity.
Accommodations: A testing accommodation is a change in test format, presentation, administration, or response procedures. Accommodations do not alter the construct being measured and scores are comparable with the original test.
Modifications: Modifications are testing changes that may alter the intended construct. The purpose of a modification is to improve accessibility while retaining as much of the original construct as possible.
Accessibility means the ability to access, interact with, and respond appropriately to test content. It involves designing a measure in a way that reduces barriers to a valid assessment of a given construct. Accommodations and modifications are often made to increase accessibility, but if accessibility is designed into the structure of an instrument, they may not be required.
Determining the necessity of an accommodation depends on how the disability presents as well as the construct or constructs being assessed. Accommodations help clients with varying levels of ability by removing access barriers that might influence the individual’s results. However, accommodations do not alter the construct being measured.
Accommodations may be made to the environment or to the way a task is presented without changing the content of the task. An accommodation for a student with a visual impairment might be enlarging print materials; an accommodation for a student who is deaf might be providing an ASL interpreter.
Modifications, however, can be changes that are made to the content or expectations of an assignment, task, or assessment. A student with a learning disability might receive a modification that reduces the number of questions on a test or provides untimed access to the materials. Modifications change what the individual is expected to learn or do in order to make it more accessible.
In general, modifications are more significant changes. Modifications alter what is expected of the individual; accommodations are less significant changes that provide support for the individual to access the same content and activities as their peers.
Learn more about modifying psychological assessments for individuals with disabilities:
American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines for Assessment and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities: APA has developed these guidelines to help psychologists develop and implement effective, fair, and ethical psychological assessments and interventions.
National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD): The NJCLD has developed guidelines for the assessment of individuals with learning disabilities. The NJCLD offers recommendations for modifying psychological assessments.
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP): NASP offers advice and guidance on modifying assessments as well as evaluating the effectiveness of those interventions.
The PAR Training Portal. Catch up on the PARtalks disability series on the PAR Training Portal. Recorded webinars are available on demand to help you learn more about working with individuals with a variety of disabilities.
Have you tried the new PARiConnect 3.0? Now PARiConnect isn’t just the most reliable platform in the online assessment industry, it is the fastest, as well! Plus, its new intuitive design and upgraded features make it the platform you enjoy using! We’ve taken Customer feedback and used it to make the platform even better for you! Here are a few features that we’ve added:
Group clients to keep organized! PARiConnect allows you to create groups of clients. Organize clinicians with their own client rosters, as well.
Change labels as needed. Account settings allow you to customize the labels used throughout the system to better suit your purposes. Personalize terms like client or student, depending on your setting.
Filter your caseload easily. New filter capabilities allow you to easily search by assessment, Client ID, name, and more!
Save your favorites. Save your most-used assessments under My Favorites and quickly access the tools you use most.
Established users can sign right in to your account to see the upgrades for yourself. All client data and inventory has transferred over seamlessly. New users can get started with 3 FREE uses. Simply sign up!
To learn more about PARiConnect 3.0, view an on-demand video tour now or read more about the new features.
We can’t wait for you to try it for yourself!
PARiConnect isn’t just the most reliable platform in the online assessment industry, its new intuitive design and upgraded features make it the platform you enjoy using! Here are five things you should know about the updates we’ve made to make your experience even better!
1. Updated home, client, and report screens. An improved home screen offers a quick view of your most recently added clients as well as links to the most commonly used functions. For Account Supervisors, PARiConnect 3.0 offers a new page that allows you to view the entire client roster in aggregate across all clinicians. Finally, an enhanced report screen provides easy access to completed reports. This screens offers the ability to filter and sort by client name, client ID, group, report, assessment, and test date range.
2. New e-mail templates. You now have the ability to save e-mail templates for future use. This feature is available to all users with the ability to assign assessments. The ability to save a user's chosen settings for future e-mailed assessments has also been added.
3. Multi-client assessment abilities. All users will now have the ability to assign a single assessment to multiple clients at the same time. This new feature will help to accelerate the assessment process, particularly when e-mailing assessments.
4. Search for assessments. A more streamlined filter was added to the Assess page, which allows users to type in the name of a client or an assessment. Furthermore, selecting all will display all assessments and forms available on PARiConnect; selecting My Favorites will display the assessments you have selected to appear in that list.
5. Assessment filter abilities. A more streamlined filter appears on the Assess page. This allows you to view your client or group list alphabetically or by date created.