Every person is entitled of rights. Like everybody else, people with disabilities (PWDs) also have rights and this include the right to have information in “accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kind of disabilities without additional cost” (CRPD, 2007).
Most clients referred to occupational therapy are children having sensory deficits (visual or hearing). Because of their deficits, they find difficulty performing their daily tasks and other activities such as school or play. To determine a client’s intellectual capacity, occupational therapy practitioners refer them to psychologists for intelligence tests. Several psychological assessments measuring intelligence were based on an ordinary individual’s ability. Special adaptations are needed for clients with special needs in order to accurately assess their performance.
One of the most common intelligence tests used for children is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 3rd edition (WISC-III). It does not need reading or writing skills. Moreover, it consists of 2 categories, having 5 subtests each, aimed to determine a child’s verbal and nonverbal (performance) IQs. The verbal IQ refers to the amount of questions answered correctly about general information, arithmetic, vocabulary, and comprehension (WISC-III, n.d.). Questions are given orally and measure the attention, concentration, and working memory. On the other hand, nonverbal IQ refers to how one finds solution to practical challenges including picture completion and arrangement or object assembly. It gauges a child’s visual-motor, visual-perceptual, and clerical pace and accuracy. Most of the subtests have time limit except for information, similarities, vocabulary, and comprehension subtests under verbal IQ. (WISC-III, n.d.)
As mentioned earlier, reading and writing are not pre-requisites to be able to give this test. However, special considerations should be made when administering this test to PWDs especially those who are visually or hearing impaired. Generally, PWDs should have a person with them to assist whenever he/she needs help in answering the test questions but not all can afford this. Sad to say, some PWDs are given types of questions that are not suitable with their condition (e.g. make him draw a man when client‘s arms are both amputated, giving a maze to a blind individual) and such needs adaptations for it to be applicable to every individual.
For the WISC-III, a number of adaptations are recommended for it to be PWD-friendly. First, the test administrators should be suitably trained and sensitive about pertinent disability issues, and appropriate testing policy and administration to assure accuracy of results. (Guide on Testing People with Disabilities, n.d.) They should also give clear instructions to the client to avoid confusion. Since most of the questions under the Verbal IQ are given orally, hearing impaired individuals cannot participate in this part. Written questionnaire should be published with clear instructions in it. Answer sheets can also be provided if the deaf person cannot talk. Using sign language is another option to communicate the questions and answers to the client (Deafness, 2008). Visually impaired client will have fewer problems in answering the part because questions are given verbally. For the nonverbal part, visually-impaired persons will have more difficulty given that the tasks under this category evaluate the visual motor and perception of a child. To solve the dilemma, the sense of touch will be use to determine the perception skills (e.g. identifying familiar objects and its missing parts, saying three events and sequence them to create a story) (Blindness, 2008). For visually impaired individuals, instructions or questions in Braille format can be created (How do blind people take tests?, 2010). Lessen or remove time limit when this factor affects the child’s performance.
People should see the strengths of a PWD, not his/her disability. They should be empowered to explore their strengths to contribute to the society and show the world that they have purpose in life. With these special adaptations, their ability can be accurately assessed.
________. (2008). Blindness. Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(CRPD).(2007). Retrieved May 3, 2010 from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/disabilities-convention.htm
________. (2008). Deafness. Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.
Guide on Testing People with Disabilities. (n.d.). Retrieved from May 4, 2010 from http://www.psychtesting.org.uk/index.cfm?190FAFD8-CF1C-D577-9E44- FFD45138E9FA
How do blind people take tests?. (2010, May 2). Retrieved May 4, 2010 from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100501004804AAmgbqU
________. (n.d.) Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 3rd. ed. (WISC-III) 1991. Retrieved May 4, 2010 from http://alpha.fdu.edu/psychology/WISCIII%20Descrpition_.htm