The Institute for Career Development opened New York City’s first GED test center, specifically designed with accommodations for people with disabilities in mind.
The GED, or General Educational Development test, is an alternative certification one can receive as an equivalent to a high school diploma. It is an examination heavily utilized by many who are unemployed and/or underemployed in order to achieve credentials for higher skill and thus higher paying jobs. However, there are people with a variety of different disabilities who require accommodations in order to take the examination.
“We are a workforce development agency for people with disabilities. So our ultimate outcome is to help people not just to get jobs, but to find career paths. And the very first barrier to being hired is a diploma or a GED. So for those who are looking to take this test, this is a life changing moment” said Joseph McDonald, president of development and communications at the institute.
The new GED test center is located in lower Manhattan at 123 William street and is equipped with both general and specific assistive technology that is designed to accommodate for certain disabilities. “We’re firm believers that the universal principle of design, beginning with thinking of all abilities, is going to create a better test center not just for people with different abilities, but for anyone” McDonald told New York Nonprofit Media.
The features in the center include but are not limited to noise canceling headphones, advanced screen reading and diction software, eye tracking devices, and ergonomic keyboards, mice, touchpads and joysticks. “As an organization that has been serving people with disabilities, we know about accessibility and what they need. So we have the infrastructure and the capacity to offer accommodations to people with disabilities who need them,” said Diosdado Gica, president of Programs and Operations at ICD.
The testing center can accommodate up to 15 people at a time - depending on their accommodations - and they currently offer up to two test sessions a month. “The space limits the number of potential test takers at any given seating … but if demand dictates we can schedule more frequently” McDonald said.
While the center offers a space for those with accommodations, the ICD itself cannot review and approve accommodations. However, they do their best to facilitate the process for those who require accommodations.
“For people that want an accommodation, we will actually invite them so we can sit down with them and go through all the steps in a very facilitated manner and even help them collect the documentation required so that they can submit the accommodation” said Gica.
For the institute, it’s not just about providing a facility for people with disabilities to take the exam, it’s about helping them obtain the tools they need to overcome any obstacles in their path towards a career. They work one-on-one and do tutorials for those whose learning disabilities are not addressed by mainstream programs. Whether it be test taking strategies or even learning computer literacy in order to take the exam as it is administered digitally, ICD provides test takers with in depth assessments to help address all of their needs.