Guide for Assessing Persons with Disabilities - How to determine and implement assessment accommodations - Temporary conditions

Although the following two conditions are not disabilities, persons with these conditions may have functional limitations which require assessment accommodations:

  • temporary medical conditions; and
  • pregnancy and childbirth related conditions.

Note that temporary illnesses of short duration are not included in this section since assessment is usually postponed until the person is able to eventually return to work and further accommodation is not normally required.

What do you need to know about the conditions?

Temporary medical conditions
People frequently return to work before all effects of an injury or of surgery are gone. If they must be assessed during the recuperation period, any remaining limitations may require assessment accommodations. For example, injuries which affect the ability to write, such as a sprained wrist or a broken arm; or injuries which affect ability to concentrate or to sit for extended periods of time due to pain or discomfort, should be accommodated. Surgery may include operations for carpal tunnel syndrome, or other operations affecting wrists, arms or shoulders, where writing is affected. Effects from the surgery which affect the person's physical tolerance to undergo assessment may also require accommodations.

Pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions
Women who are pregnant may present temporary functional limitations which will require some accommodations. For example, they may have difficulties sitting down for long period of time and therefore may have to stretch or frequently change position. Another example could be that, due to pregnancy diabetes, a woman has to eat a little something regularly.

It may also be appropriate to provide accommodation to a woman who is on maternity leave and nursing her baby.

What information or professional documentation is needed?

Applicants are normally the first source of information on their functional limitations and the assessment accommodations they require. Professional documentation will usually not be needed for applicants who are pregnant or who have clear and obvious functional limitations.

In case of persons who have temporary conditions associated with functional limitations that are not evident, complex or subject to interpretation, documentation can be requested. Such documentation should describe the nature and extend of the functional limitations and any current effect of medication. It should also indicate the date on which the condition began and an estimate of a recovery date.

What are the key elements to consider?

When determining assessment accommodations for persons with temporary functional limitations, the following three elements should be considered:

1. The nature and extent of the person's functional limitations must be clearly understood. The following questions may help to gather useful information:

  • What is the nature and extent of the functional limitations caused by the condition: are they mild, moderate or severe?
  • What are the current effects of any medication being taken, if applicable?
  • Are there any specific requirements? For example: Is there a need to feed the baby every 3 hours? Is there a need to use the washroom every other hour?
  • What accommodations is the person currently using on the job?

It is important to reiterate that persons with disabilities are the first source of information on the way their limitations affect them and on how to accommodate their specific needs. Consequently, this information is usually gathered through exchanges with the person. To help you to gather these details in a discussion, you may wish to refer to the questionnaire available in appendix 2.

2. A thorough knowledge of the assessment tool to be used is required. Depending on the assessment tool's characteristics, accommodations which are necessary for one tool may be unnecessary for another. Here are some considerations to help you identify the characteristics of your assessment tool.

For an interview:

  • Are written documents provided before or during the interview? If so, how much reading is involved?
  • Is there time to prepare responses prior to the interview?
  • What is the expected length of responses to be given orally?
  • Is there a written component? If so, how much writing is involved?
  • What is the time allotted?

For a written test:

  • Is it an essay-style exam, short answers or a multiple choice test?
  • Is it a case study, an in-basket exercise, an open book test??
  • How many questions are there?
  • How much reading and writing are involved?
  • What is the time allotted?
  • Will the instructions be provided orally or in writing?

For an interactive situation:

  • Is it a group setting? If so, how many participants are there?
  • Is written documentation provided before or during the situation? If so, how much reading is involved?
  • What is the expected length of exercise to happen orally?
  • Is there a written component? If so, how much writing is involved?
  • What is the time allotted?

3. Knowledge of the qualification being assessed is essential. This information will help you ensure that accommodations do not modify the nature or level of the qualification being assessed. Considerations include:

  • What qualification(s) is (are) assessed by the instrument? It is knowledge, abilities/skills, aptitude or personal suitability? How is it defined?
  • Is there a speed requirement?
  • Does the level of the qualification assessed reflect the job requirement?

Determining appropriate assessment accommodations necessarily requires research and analysis of all three elements above; of the impact they have one another, and the application of the Principles for assessment accommodations. This analysis is the foundation of the rationale for the accommodations. This rational has to explain how the accommodations are enabling the demonstration of the person's qualifications, preventing his or her functional limitations from being a disadvantage. It also has to explain how the person is not being given an advantage compared to others in the appointment process, therefore, that merit is preserved.

Examples of assessment accommodations and considerations

The following are examples and considerations that may be helpful in determining assessment accommodations. It also includes a number of specific examples of assessment accommodations relative to possible functional limitations.

While reviewing these examples, keep in mind that accommodations are determined on a case by case basis and their appropriateness will depend on the nature and extent of the individual's functional limitations, the assessment tool to be used and the qualification to be assessed. Also, accommodations must resemble, if possible, the usual way in which the person would perform the task requested as if he or she was on the job, and must not alter the nature or level of the qualification being assessed. For more details, please refer to Determining and implementing assessment accommodations.

Individual assessment session: An individual session is required whenever the test administration differs from standard procedure (for example: use of adaptive technology, additional time, or breaks).

Additional time: Additional time may be required to accommodate persons with functional limitations which require adaptive technology, or where pain or discomfort interferes with the assessment task.

Breaks: Breaks which are not counted in the test administration time are an appropriate assessment accommodation when the person's condition entails a need to stretch to relieve discomfort, to rest cramped muscles, or to use washroom facilities. A stopwatch should be used to keep track of the exact time spent on assessment and the time spent on breaks.

For writing difficulties:

  • For mild difficulties, allow the person some additional time and breaks for resting the affected arm or hand;
  • For essay-type examinations, it may be more effective for the person to use a computer or other assistive technology to record answers;
  • For an injury where the person cannot write at all, consider the use of a scribe or recording answers on a Dictaphone, with an appropriate time extension.

For fatigue, pain or limited physical tolerance

  • For persons with limitations causing discomfort when sitting for extended periods of time, provide an Obus chair or other ergonomic seating which meets the person's needs.
  • Provide breaks as required to allow the person to stretch or rest.
  • A woman in the last trimester of pregnancy may require frequent stretch breaks to relieve the discomfort of sitting for an extended period of time, as well as breaks to use the washroom.

See the section on mobility or agility disabilities or chronic illnesses for other ideas on ways to accommodate pain, fatigue or limited physical tolerance.

For applicants who are pregnant or nursing

  • For a nursing mother who is being assessed while still on maternity leave, schedule around nursing times or allow breaks as required to nurse the baby. Note that the applicant should provide a caregiver to care for the child in a nearby space away from the assessment room.
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