The basics of assessment accommodation

Assessment accommodation is a change made to an assessment procedure, format or content. It is designed to remove barriers to a fair assessment and allow candidates to fully demonstrate their competency.

Most of the people who request assessment accommodation do it on the basis of a disability. However, accommodation can be requested for any legitimate need relating to one of the 13 prohibited grounds for discrimination set out in the Canadian Human Rights Act:

  • race
  • national or ethnic origin
  • colour
  • religion
  • age
  • sex
  • gender orientation or expression
  • genetic characteristics
  • sexual orientation
  • marital status
  • family status
  • disability
  • conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered

Assessment accommodation should not modify the nature or level of the qualification being assessed. It should resemble, as much as possible, the accommodation that would be provided in the workplace to perform tasks similar to the ones performed during the test.

Important reminder:

Only the Public Service Commission of Canada’s (PSC’s) consultants can establish the assessment accommodation to be used for the PSC’s tests.

Types of assessment accommodation

Assessment accommodation can be classified into 5 broad categories:

Modifications in the testing environment

This first category includes all changes made to the test setting, including the location of the testing session.


  • individual testing session
  • quieter room
  • increased or decreased lighting
  • wheelchair accessible environment

Modifications to the test format

This category includes all changes made to the format used to present the test instructions or questions.


  • larger font
  • computer-based test
  • live reader (someone who reads the questions aloud to the candidate)

Modifications to the response format

This category includes all changes made to the way in which the candidate responds to test questions.


  • speech-to-text software
  • electronic answer sheet
  • scribe (someone who writes down the candidate’s answers)

Modifications in scheduling/timing

This category includes changes made in the scheduling and timing of the test session.


  • extra time
  • breaks
  • test scheduled at a specific time of day

Other modifications

This category covers all accommodation that cannot be included in any of the 4 previous categories. Please note that accommodation of this type is rarely justified, especially since it may modify the nature or level of the assessed qualification.


  • eliminating a portion of the assessment
  • using an alternate assessment method to measure the same competency

Duty to Accommodate

What the Duty to Accommodate is

Duty to Accommodate refers to the fact that employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation for legitimate needs linked to prohibited grounds of discrimination (see list above). Assessment accommodation stems from the employer’s Duty to Accommodate.

Limits to the Duty to Accommodate

As mentioned above, employers need to accommodate legitimate needs related to any prohibited grounds of discrimination. Moreover, employers are required to accommodate their employees up to the point of undue hardship, which is the limit beyond which the necessary accommodation would no longer be considered reasonable.

There is no set formula for deciding what constitutes undue hardship. Therefore, the following factors must be considered:

  • health
  • safety
  • cost
  • collective agreements
  • interchangeability of the workforce and facilities
  • legitimate operational requirements of the workplace

For more information, refer to: Duty to Accommodate: A General Process for Managers

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