Setting an Uncorrected Visual Acuity Standard for Police Officer Applicants

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Abstract

Government agencies have used uncorrected visual acuity (UVA) standards for many years for police officer applicants. With the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, public employers have concern about the validity of these standards. This report shows how data can be used to set a reasonable standard. The report includes a description of a survey of incumbents, acuity testing of a sample of incumbents, collection of essential task information, and experimentation based on the essential tasks. A series of focus group meetings resulted in agreement that 2 essential tasks officers must be able to perform when visually incapacitated are identifying a weapon in a typical room and finding spectacles that have been dislodged. The experimentation showed that a noticeable performance decrement begins to appear at 20/125 level of acuity. As a result of the research, the City of Columbus, Ohio, changed the UVA standard from 20/40 to 20/125.

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