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Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Journal

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Vocational rehabilitation, Vocational evaluation -- Technological innovations


Current technologies, including computerized assessments, assistive technology, and information/resource technology, are effective tools that offer the rehabilitation professional a variety of applications for vocational evaluation and work assessment. "The ability of vocational evaluators to effectively utilize computers to obtain useful information (e.g. availability of specific electronic devices, job accommodation techniques, job-matching) for vocational recommendations could ultimately affect the outcome goals achieved in the rehabilitation process" (Chan, Lam, Leahy, Parker, & Wong; 1989, p. 113). In order to appropriately use these technologies, rehabilitation professionals need to understand the issues surrounding the use of these tools (e.g., reliability, validity) and ethical concerns (e.g. equivalence, confidentiality) for their appropriate application to individuals with disabilities. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of computerized assessment (including test administration, response recording/scoring, and data analysis/test interpretation) along with the ethical considerations. Additionally, information about how assistive technology and information technology can assist in vocational assessment and work evaluation is provided along with an appendix (A) of helpful Internet addresses. Vocational evaluators who assess individuals with disabilities in order to facilitate career planning and employment must be aware of the concerns and issues surrounding computer use in vocational assessment and evaluation. Some argue that computer-assisted-technology, especially adaptive testing, has revolutionized the practice of assessment and is likely to be increasingly popular. Others, however, only see it as the transposition of the traditional paper-and-pencil test content onto the computer screen and the use of a keyboard as a replacement for the pencil (Ittenbach, Esters, & Wainer, 1997). It is crucial for vocational evaluators to have an understanding of the practical and ethical concerns and issues of computerized assessment in order to appropriately apply this technology to people with disabilities. Our goal in preparing this article was to broaden the rehabilitation professionals understanding of three important technological tools that can assist rehabilitation professionals in vocational evaluations and work assessments: (1) computerized assessments, (2) assistive technology, and (3) information technology/links to other resources. Section one provides an overview of the issues surrounding computerized assessment and evaluation, including (a) test administration, (b) adaptive tests, (c) response recording and scoring, (d) reliability and validity, (e) data analysis and test interpretation, and (f) important ethical considerations (equivalence and confidentiality) that affect client outcomes. We have endeavored to present both the strengths and limitation of computerized assessment, including test interpretation, in order to objectively review the issues and concerns with this technology. Section two reviews the application of assistive technology resources and services to people with disabilities, including testing accommodations. Lastly, section three discusses the role of information technology and offers a list of resources (see Appendix A), which are valuable tools for career exploration, placement resources, and the identification of potential employers. These technologies are useful tools to affect successful client outcomes when used appropriately and ethically by informed rehabilitation professionals.


Copyright 2002 VEWAA Journal


At the time of publication Tina Anctil Peterman was affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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