Many thanks to John Rogers of the Disability Driving Instructors group for sending this in.
Despite DVSA agreeing to provide common sense and reasonable adjustments for Deaf candidates taking practical driving tests, problems have recently occurred with both ADIs and DVSA examiners not being aware of what has been agreed.
Two recent cases have occurred:
1. Candidate notified DVSA of their hearing difficulties when making the test booking but on arrival at the test centre the examiner was not aware of this. ADI intervened to explain that the candidate needed the examiner to remove their face covering so that they could lip read, the examiner refused & said the test could not go ahead. The candidate was then told that they would lose the test fee & would need to re-book and pay again for a further test.
2. Candidate notified DVSA of their profound deafness when booking the test & requested that the examiner remove their face covering when they needed to lip read; they also requested that the ADI be allowed to sit in on test so that they could act as a BSL interpreter.
ADI was contacted in advance & told that the examiner would not be permitted to remove their face covering; ADI was also told that DVSA rules prevented three people being in car during a practical driving test so he was not permitted to act as a BSL interpreter in car during the test.
Examiner got in touch & invited the ADI and the candidate to the test centre before the test to explain what was required and confirm the hand gestures used to direct them. The result was that despite the candidate being very concerned that she might not understand the examiner without a BSL interpreter being present she was able to understand the required route and the directions; she achieved a first time pass.
On both of these occasions the reasonable adjustments agreed by DVSA (reproduced below) were not permitted on test because the examiners were not aware of the changes that had been agreed, in addition the ADIs did not have written confirmation of the adjustments that had been agreed by DVSA. In the first case the ADI did not contact the test centre in advance of the test to confirm the special needs requirements, as is recommended by DVSA; this would have highlighted any potential problems before the day of the test allowing time for the examiner to discuss the special needs requirements with the ADI and time for the examiner to prepare for what is required for the special needs test.
The following reasonable adjustments for Deaf candidates taking their practical driving test were confirmed by Mike Warner, Senior External Affairs Manager DVSA, on July 7 2020.
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 us 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 whilst out of the vehicle and whilst 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 3 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. (When DVSA opens up ADI tests and return to having 3 people in the car more widely, this will become easier)
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 DE. 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.
I trust this provides clarity and assurance. I must reemphasise that such adjustments MUST be requested at the time of booking using the special requirements section, to ensure we match the candidate with a suitable driving examiner. As driving examiner schedules are now staggered throughout the day, we cannot simply swap one test for another. Requesting on the day will mean the test cannot go ahead.
DVSA have previously requested that ADIs contact the driving test centre to confirm any special needs requirements in advance of the test to ensure that the information provided on the special requirements section of the booking form has been passed on to the examiner conducting the test.
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