Tag Archives: guidelines

Improving the ‘Legal Recruit’ website for individuals with dyslexia

Website design is imperative for a website like mine if ‘Legal Recruit’ is to be optimal help to law students with reading problems or visual impairments. The website is accessible here. I’ll radically re-design some of the pages ahead of the official launch of ‘Legal Recruit’ in early November.

Shamefully, I was unaware of the good practice guidelines for website design to optimise websites for individuals with dyslexia. I had a very interesting conversation with the British Dyslexia Association helpline about how many students are not even recognised as dyslexic until they have sat their Finals at undergraduate level. This to some extent is being mitigated by Universities and University Colleges now performing a simple screening test on admission. The helpline immediately pointed me in the direction of these style guidelines. Above all, I am hugely grateful to @CreativeCrip whose experience and knowledge shone through in tweets as short as 140 characters. I would not have known about any of this, if it were not for Creative Crip.

Their guidance is as follows, and my reactions are also provided. A strength of the website is that it’s possible to alter the text size. A weakness of the website is that it’s not possible to alter the text style.

Website design must consider all the above factors together with the following points.
Research shows that readers access text at a 25% slower rate on a computer. This should be taken into account when putting information on the web. When a website is completed, check the site and information for accessibility by carrying out these simple checks.

  • Navigation should be easy. A site map is helpful. [We do not have a site map but a navigation bar]
  • Use graphics, images, and pictures to break up text, while bearing in mind that graphics and tables may take a long time to download. [The website currently fails to do this on some pages, but this can be easily remedied.]
  • Very large graphics make pages harder to read. [Graphics are scaled, but I will never use graphics bigger than ‘medium’ in future].
  • Offer alternate download pages in a text reader friendly style. [The LegalRecruit webpage allows different text sizes]
  • Where possible design web pages which can be downloaded and read off-line. [I will need to consult about this]
  • Moving text creates problems for people with visual difficulties. Text reading software is unable to read moving text. [There is a slideshow of moving images on the front page, but there is no moving text on the website].
  • Contents links should show which pages have been accessed. [The text has various hyperlinks.]
  • Most users prefer dark print on a pale background. Colour preferences vary. [The website mostly uses a clear sans serif font in lack on a white background.]
  • Some websites offer a choice of background colours. [I have decided not to use a range of different background colours.]
  • Encourage the use of hyperlinks at the end of sentences. [I was completely unaware of this, but I note this information.]
  • Avoid green and red/pink as these are difficult for colour-blind individuals. [The logo is dark red – for personal reasons. I am very mindful of this observation.]
  • Make sure that it is possible for users to set their own choice of font style and size, background and print colours. [I will need to discuss this.]
Here’s a typical screen from the website.
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Legal Recruit will be observing ‘best practices’ for design of online practice assessments

The ‘Legal Recruit’ twitter thread (@legal_recruit) is already active.

A small secret group has been set up to provide a normal distribution of data from graduates to norm-reference performance of graduates on the new ‘Legal Recruit’ online verbal reasoning tests.

Psychometric tests have become very significant in legal  recruitment. SHL verbal reasoning tests have become widely used in legal recruitment for corporate law firms for London. A lot of weight is given to their results in shortlisting (or not) good candidates for interview for vacation schemes and training contract applications. It is very important that such tests are used responsibly. My ‘Legal Recruit’ will not be seeking official accreditation from the BPS as my tests are not official psychological tests, and are only meant to be used as useful guidance for law students applying to corporate firms merely as practice. The history of the development of these SHL tests by Roger Holdsworth and Peter Saville is interesting, and briefly given in Roger Holdsworth’s obituary in the Telegraph:

“Holdsworth became convinced that psychometric testing could be developed to assist companies in selecting suitable employees. In 1977 he got together with Peter Saville, whom he had met at the British Psychological Society, to found Saville and Holdsworth (later SHL), a business to develop and promote psychometric testing. Psychometric testing took off in the Second World War, when it was used extensively in the armed services to assess personnel, but by the 1960s, when Holdsworth began his career as a business psychologist, it had failed to catch on elsewhere. Most companies recruited staff on the basis of highly subjective interviews or through the “old boy network”. Not only did Holdsworth feel this was unfair, he knew it led to poor decisions. From its beginnings in a spare room, SHL expanded rapidly, profiting from growing demand for the tests from large firms seeking to identify their own “corporate culture” and recruit staff to fit that mould. Drawing on his aptitude for languages – he spoke 5 fluently – Holdsworth led SHL’s expansion into more than 30 countries.”

Psychological tests, by definition, have to test well-understood cognitive domains in a validated, repeatable, consistent, measurable way. ‘Legal Recruit’ tests are not specialised psychological tests, examining specific cognitive domains. They are, however, intended to allow practice for SHL tests which are widely used by corporate law firms.

Indeed, tbe British Psychological Society (“BPS”) has a register of accreditated tests, which contains some SHL tests. According to the official website of the BPS devoted to psychometric testing,

“Test Registration has been developed to inform and protect the public by the use of ‘quality marks’ on tests that meet the European Federation of Psychologists Association (EFPA) criteria to be classed as having adequate psychological properties. Tests can be registered if they meet minimum quality standards. The quality standards are set by the European Federation of Psychologists Associations and the tests are assessed against the standard through the review process.”

The British Psychological Society maintain standards for psychological testing: according to their website, “Psychological tests are used in all walks of life to assess ability, personality and behaviour. A test can be used as part of the selection process for job interviews, to assess children in schools, assess people with mental health issues or offenders in prisons. The British Psychological Society’s Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) is the first point of contact for anyone who uses, takes or develops tests.. “

I have a deep interest in cognitive neuropsychology, as my PhD from Cambridge and my post-doctoral fellowship from London were in this discipline (particularly the role of the frontal lobes in reasoning, planning and decision-making), As I am disabled with visual impairment, I will ensure that my tests can be done by learners with visual impairments; and all other reasonable adjustments are provided. Whilst the Legal Recruit tests will not be officially accreditated by the BPS, they will all be observing best practice. Some critical documents in best practice by the BPS are provided here,

A test taker’s guide

The code of good practice in psychological testing

Draft Data Protection and Privacy Issues in Employment Related Settings

The BPS also draws attention to the disability issues, in keeping with the corporate law firms’ obligations with the Equality Act (2010):

Dyslexia and Occupational Testing

Visual Impairment and Psychological Testing.pdf

Psychometric Testing for people with a hearing impairment1.pdf

The BPS draw attention also to ‘good practice’ guidelines over computerised testing. ‘Legal Recruit’ will be adhering to these guidelines:

 International Guidelines on Computer-Based and Internet Delivered Tests

Using online assessment tools for recruitment.pdf

Guidelines on the Validity of Graphology in Personnel Assessment

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