The processes of delivering professional certification and licensure exams is always technical and can often be impersonal, but it cannot be overstated that this is an industry that empowers people to reach their dreams. In this issue’s Speaker Spotlight, Amy Purdy tells her story of breaking through seemingly insurmountable circumstances — the amputation of both her legs below the knee, at age 19 — to reach her dreams and become a world-class athlete.
Testing Accommodations (TA) help people achieve their dreams every day. While guided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the spirit of helping others accomplish great things is at the heart of what we do at Prometric.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, Prometric conducted a survey to gain insight into the state of testing accommodations from the client side of the process. Sixty-eight companies completed the survey, and the feedback indicated a number of areas for consideration.
- An expanding legal interpretation of the ADA and state-by-state variations in testing accommodations requirements has left a majority of respondents (57%) without a clear understanding of the obligations surrounding candidates and their requests.
- Sixty percent of respondents would be interested in having a dedicated advisor to monitor current testing accommodations requirements and provide counsel on best practices, while only 35 percent reported that they currently monitor ADA laws “very” or even “somewhat closely.”
- In-house processes are the norm, with 82 percent of respondents managing testing accommodations on their own.
- Nearly three-fourths, 74 percent, have set practices and standards for determining whether or not to grant a request.
- Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported that testing accommodations account for less than 5 percent of their total exam volume, but costs vary widely. While 57 percent of respondents reported monthly costs of $100 or less, 24 percent spend $1,000 or more.
- Concerns surrounding testing accommodations requests and approvals were:
- Legal risks (26 percent)
- Giving an unfair advantage to candidates not truly needing accommodation (22 percent)
- Ensuring TA support is effective (19 percent)
- The time it takes to process requests
- Procuring the required documentation from candidates was the number one “pain point,” at 32 percent.
Looking to the future, organizations can expect more requests as federal and state laws continue to become more inclusive. Having a system in place is the first step, and survey results indicate that most organizations recognize the need for set standards and mechanisms to process requests.
Prometric continually seeks to find and adopt best practices, such as utilizing “Advocates,” dedicated case managers who assist candidates through their testing experience. These Advocates continue to support candidates during their initial testing experience and through future testing. Concurrently, the company continues to develop new technologies that can remove barriers for test takers.
JAWS (Job Access with Speech) software is a computer screen reader program that helps visually impaired users through text-to-speech output.
Dragon Naturally Speaking is speech recognition software that transcribes speech into written text. Other features of Dragon include synthesizing a document as an audio stream, and issuing commands that can be recognized by the program.
Behind the Confirmation Number
Prometric’s Senior Manager for Corporate Site Management recently shared with a leadership group in the company her experience with a candidate seeking to become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).
The 175-question exam takes 3 ½ hours and measures a candidate’s understanding of case management and counseling as an ethical practice to empower others to overcome challenges associated with disablement and gain employment. Professionals in this field have careers in universities, hospitals, schools, government agencies, insurance companies and specialized rehabilitation facilities and organizations.
Of the experience delivering the exam, she said,
“As this candidate sat in our separate room with their service animal and accommodations, I realized now more than ever the importance of what Prometric does for people on a daily basis across the globe.”
Testing accommodations exist to provide a fair exam experience for people with visual, hearing, physical and learning conditions. Each year, approximately 16,000 people in the United States look to Prometric for accommodations while testing for professional certification, licensure and accreditation. These accommodations create an even playing field for people to enhance their careers or become more marketable as candidates for new jobs.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III, mandates accommodations for qualifying individuals delivered “in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of the individual.”
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that federal agencies provide the same access to electronic and information technology. Prometric, as a federal contractor, is Section 508 compliant.