Reasonable adjustments for deaf candidates taking tests during COVID-19

Additional reasonable adjustments have been agreed by DVSA for deaf candidates taking practical driving tests during the COVID-19 restrictions. These mainly concern measures to ensure effective communication between examiner and candidate before and during the practical driving test. The agreed adjustments include:

Q If a test candidate with hearing difficulties needs to lipread, will the examiner temporarily remove their face covering when required to allow the candidate to see their lip movements?

A Yes, please let DVSA know by using the special requirements section on our booking system to let us know about this. The most appropriate method for communication between the examiner and the candidate will be established while out of the vehicle and maintaining social distancing.

Q If the test candidate is deaf, uses British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate and needs a BSL interpreter in car (either the ADI or an independent interpreter), will it be permitted to have three people in car for the practical test?

A Yes, providing the candidate has informed us by using the special requirements section that they will be bringing a BSL interpreter. This will enable DVSA to ensure we have an examiner available who is willing to have an additional person in the car in the same way we make sure we have an examiner who is able to take a test for someone who can’t wear a face covering.

Q Will the ADI be permitted to accompany the candidate for the tell me question at the start of the test if interpretation may be required?

A Yes if they are a BSL interpreter. As with all tests it is helpful if the ADI is in the vicinity and ready to assist if required and invited by the examiner. The ADI must follow social distancing requirements. The ‘tell me’ question can be conducted outside of the vehicle at the start of the test so will not require the ADI to accompany the whole test if this is the only section that interpretation is required. This will ensure social distancing can be maintained.

There is concern that many trainers have not have been aware of these adjustments as they have not been publicised as widely as they could have been to both ADIs and examiners. 

This lack of awareness has resulted in some deaf candidates potentially being disadvantaged when taking their practical tests as they have been may have been denied the necessary adjustments they need to ensure effective communication between examiner and test candidate. As their trainers have not always been aware of the adjustments made by DVSA they were not able to challenge examiners when they said that the adjustments were not permitted.

Thanks to Jon Rogers of Disability Driving Instructors in highlighting these problems to DVSA. DIA has spoken directly with DVSA on the issue and has been assured that every effort will be made to ensure all examiners are aware of the adjustments which can be allowed and facilitate them for deaf candidates. The agency will also be sending guidance communications to trainers. DVSA will also be contacting candidates who have encountered issues and seeking to resolve them. 

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