The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Program provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for individuals with documented disabilities who demonstrate a need for accommodation. Examinees are informed of the availability of test accommodations in the USMLE Bulletin of Information: Applying and Scheduling and in the Application Instructions.
The following information is provided for examinees, evaluators, medical school student affairs staff, faculty and others involved in the process of documenting a request for test accommodations. Applicants requesting test accommodations should share these guidelines with their evaluator, therapist, treating physician, etc., so that appropriate documentation can be assembled to support the request for test accommodations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and accompanying regulations define a person with a disability as someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, seeing, hearing, or learning. The purpose of documentation is to validate that the individual is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act as a disabled individual.
The purpose of accommodations is to provide equal access to the USMLE testing program. Accommodations “match up” with the identified functional limitation so that the area of impairment is alleviated by an auxiliary aid or adjustment to the testing procedure. Functional limitation refers to the behavioral manifestations of the disability that impede the individual’s ability to function, i.e., what someone cannot do on a regular and continuing basis as a result of the disability. For example, a functional limitation might be impaired vision so that the individual is unable to view the examination in the standard font size. An appropriate accommodation might be text enlargement. It is essential that the documentation provide a clear explanation of the functional impairment and a rationale for the requested accommodation.
While presumably the use of accommodations in the test activity will enable the individual to better demonstrate his/her knowledge mastery, accommodations are not a guarantee of improved performance, test completion or a passing score.