Guide for Assessing Persons with Disabilities - How to determine and implement assessment accommodations - Roles and responsibilities

A number of parties are involved in the process of determining accommodations for persons with disabilities who undergo assessment in an appointment process. These parties include the Public Service Commission (PSC) and its Personnel Psychology Centre (PPC), the deputy head, the manager, the assessment board and the applicant.

Public Service Commission

The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), gives the PSC the authority to appoint, or provide for the appointment of, persons to or from within the public service. It also gives the PSC the power to delegate its appointment and appointment-related authorities to deputy heads who, in turns, are encouraged to sub-delegate in writing their authorities. To ensure proper delegation of its authorities, the PSC can establish regulations and policies concerning appointments. With respect to assessing persons with disabilities, the PSC has the following responsibilities:

  • to provide regulation and appointment policies, which ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are respected;
  • to provide guidance to delegated organizations on how to respect the rights of persons with disabilities, while protecting the core values of merit and non-partisanship, as well as the values guiding appointments, which are access, fairness, representativeness and transparency;
  • to provide multiple formats of its standardized tests, practice tests, backgrounds documents or any other document relevant to its tests; and
  • to determine assessment accommodations to be provided to applicants with disabilities when a PSC standardized test is used, and when it occurs:
    • to obtain adequate information, documentation on which to base decisions about assessment accommodations;
    • to engage in discussion with qualified professionals with the consent of the applicant, if more information is required; and
    • to handle private information and documentation related to assessment accommodations in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Note that the responsibilities related to determining assessment accommodations to be used with PSC standardized tests are assumed by the Personnel Psychology Center (PPC) of the PSC. Since the results of PSC standardized tests can be used in other future appointment processes within the public service, it is essential to monitor through the same organization the conditions under which these tests are administered across the public service, in order to insure the validity of the results.

Deputy heads

Under the PSEA, deputy heads, to which the PSC has delegated its appointment authority, have a number of responsibilities with respect to persons with disabilities:

  • to inform applicants that they have a right to accommodation;
  • to constitute knowledgeable and, to the extent feasible, representative assessment boards, and provide training as required to ensure competent assessment of persons with disabilities;
  • to provide all services and materials associated with assessment accommodations, such as sign language interpreters, readers or scribes, adaptive technology, and assessment materials in multiple formats other than standard print; and
  • to assume the costs related to assessment accommodations, up to the point of undue hardship.

Managers and assessment boards

Under the PSEA, deputy heads can delegate to managers their responsibilities for appointment processes. Managers are to determine the qualifications required for the job to be staffed, and to issue a statement of merit criteria. They are also responsible for the assessment of applicants, to determine if they meet the merit criteria.

To assist them with the assessment phase, managers usually create an assessment board. The manager and the assessment board become jointly responsible to ensure a fair assessment of all applicants. The manager and the assessment board have a number of specific responsibilities related to the assessment of persons with disabilities:

  • to inform all applicants that they have a right to accommodation;
  • to determine the assessment tools to be used;
  • to inform applicants of the nature of the assessment tools that will be used (for example, whether it is going to be oral or written) so that they may judge if they will need to request accommodations in the assessment process;
  • to determine assessment accommodations to be provided for the fair assessment of everyone;
  • to contact the PPC of the PSC when assessment accommodations are requested for a PSC standardized test (see section on PSC above);
  • to document all requests for assessment accommodations from the point of the initial request through to their conclusion, including their rationale;
  • to obtain adequate information or documentation from applicants on their specific needs and functional limitations;
  • to engage in discussion with qualified professionals with the consent of the applicant, if more information is required;
  • to ensure that assessment accommodations are implemented appropriately during the assessment; and
  • to handle private information and documentation related to the establishment of assessment accommodations in accordance with the Privacy Act;


As those being assessed, applicants have an essential role to play in the process of determining assessment accommodations. They have clear responsibilities in the following areas:

  • to communicate there need for assessment accommodations to the person in charge of the appointment process; and
  • to discuss there needs with those responsible for the assessment who are determining accommodations. More specifically:
    • to provide information on the nature and extent of there specific functional limitations (for more details on the nature of information and professional documentation that may be requested, go to the section Determining and implementing assessment accommodations steps 2 and 3); and
    • to provide input on any past accommodations and their appropriateness.

Note that information on the nature and extent of functional limitations is essential to establish proper assessment accommodations. In a situation where a person is unwilling to share this essential information, it may not be possible to provide the most appropriate accommodations.

While it is essential and required to consult with applicants throughout the process of determining accommodations, the final decision on the accommodations to be provided in an assessment process rests with the manager and the assessment board. As opposed to workplace accommodation, there are limits to applicant's role in determining accommodations in an assessment process. While applicants may ask for specific accommodations based on past experience (for example, on the job or at school), it is possible that these accommodations be refused by the manager or the assessment board. However, any refusal of a specific accommodation requested by an applicant must be justified as to why it is not appropriate in the specific assessment context. For example, the accommodation requested would alter the nature or level of the qualification being assessed.

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