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Studying for & taking the Theory Test if you are Deaf

You may be able to use mainstream study aids and take the standard DVSA Theory Test but if you have a difficulty reading and understanding the English language used for the test this may cause problems for Deaf people. You can take the theory test using BSL if you are Deaf and additional help is also available when studying for the theory test, with specially designed apps, DVDs and YouTube videos available.

Studying for the Theory Test

Many people with hearing difficulties will be able to use the mainstream study aids for the theory test (see: Studying for the Theory Test if you have Special Needs) but those who use BSL may find the following useful:

Safe driving for life

DVSA have produced a series of videos to help users of British Sign Language to learn The Official Highway Code for their safety and the safety of others.

Safe Driving For Life – The Official Highway Code (BSL)

BSL Theory Test

A picture is worth a thousand words – BSL Theory Test has added 3,650 pictures to the DVSA questions to make a visual-based learning system designed to help Deaf people, and those with autism, dyslexia and learning difficulties pass the theory test.

“We have added pictures to the car theory test questions and answers, these questions and answers are the same as those on the actual car theory test but those do not have the 3,650 pictures that we have added to our learning system.”

We use the latest DVSA theory test questions and have added thousands of images to make the theory test easier to understand as well as pass. Adding pictures to the theory test is what makes us unique from any other theory test site in the UK as we are the 1st and only driving theory test site to do this.

This is called visual learning which has proven to help up to 95% of candidates pass the driving theory test 1st time and this is how we believe theory test practice should take place.

For details see: BSL Theory Test

Taking the Theory Test

If you are Deaf you can take the Theory Test using British Sign Language (BSL), this can either be an on-screen BSL where the interpreter will appear in a separate ‘widow’ in the corner of the computer screen and the interpretation will run alongside the standard test questions and answers or you can request a face-to-face BSL interpreter where a person, provided by DVSA, will sit alongside you while you take the test and will sign the questions and answers for you; they can then mark the answers on the computer when you sign which answer you have chosen.

Be aware that there have been reported problems with candidates not understanding the on-screen BSL interpretation and you can’t ask what the different signs mean. Some people have complained that the on-screen BSL interpreter signs too fast and you can’t get them to sign more slowly. Other people have said that the ‘window’ where the on-screen BSL interpreter appears is too small and you cannot see the signs properly; there have also been reported problems with regional variations with slightly different sign language used by different BSL interpreters from different parts of the country. If you are worried about using the on-screen BSL you should request the face-to-face interpreter, this needs to be arranged through the theory test customer services section; you won’t be charged an extra fee for this service.

Theory test bookings need to be made on-line at You need ask for additional support when you make the on-line booking for your test and once you have completed your personal details you will be asked what test support you need. Request either “on-screen BSL” or “an interpreter next to me using sign language” . No proof of hearing difficulty is required but this must be booked in advance – tick the box when booking the test. On-screen BSL bookings can be completed and paid for on the initial booking but if you request a face-to-face BSL DVSA will need time to arrange this so the booking will not be able to be completed or paid for; once you have completed the initial section of the booking form the next page will tell you that you won’t be able to complete it and that the DVSA will need to contact you about this support, they will ask what is your preferred method of communication, telephone or email, and will take your contact details, they will then contact you later to arrange the booking and take the booking fee.

DVSA Theory Test Booking Service:

  • email:
  • Telephone: 0300 200 1122
  • Textphone: 0191 404 8944
  • Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm

Taking the practical test

If you are deaf or have hearing difficulties you need to declare this to DVSA when you book your driving test, book the test on-line at or by phone: 0300 200 1122

Once the driving test has been booked DVSA also advise that your driving instructor or accompanying driver should contact the driving test centre during the week before the test to confirm your needs.

The test centre staff need to know:

  • That a Deaf person is coming for test.
  • Whether you are a lip reader or use sign language – if you are a lip reader ask for any face covering to be removed.
  • Whether an interpreter is to be used for: the introduction, the tell me question or in-car for the entire test.
  • If an interpreter is being used, will this be the driving instructor or will there be an independent interpreter.
  • About any other accommodations that may be required e.g. if there is a preference for either sat-nav or following road signs for the independent drive.

You may take an interpreter with you if you use sign language; the interpreter must be over the age of 16 and you could use your driving instructor as an interpreter. You must arrange for the interpreter and pay any fees yourself but you can Apply for a refund for a driving test British Sign Language interpreter if you do need to arrange this.

During the practical driving test the examiner should use the DVSA Deaf Candidate Pack (5), this pack includes prompt cards designed to aid communication and is available for your driving instructor to use on lessons to help you get used to it. The pack advises that, if it would help, your instructor or accompanying driver could arrange a meeting at the test centre between you and the examiner who will be conducting the test. This will allow everyone to talk about the test with no pressure so that: you know what to expect on test, you understand how the prompt cards work and importantly so that you and your instructor can ensure that the examiner understands what hand gestures you have used on lessons; the examiner should then be able to use the same gestures on test. If there is going to be an accompanying BSL interpreter on test their role should be explained and it should be clearly explained how they will be involved during the test.

Before the start of the test the examiner should confirm the hand gestures that are to be used to direct you and make sure you recognise the gestures for moving off and stopping, for turning left and right into side roads and at the end of the road, for taking the 2nd or 3rd road on the left or right and that you recgnise the gestures for roundabouts, turning left, right or doing a U turn and taking the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th exit. Importantly it is essential that you both understand the gesture that you should make if you do not understand an instruction or hand gesture given by the examiner.

The examiner will use the prompt cards in the pack to help communicate with you but DVSA are very clear in stating that, other than the basic hand gestures described above, instructions should only be given once you have stopped at the side of the road; it is unsafe to use prompt cards when the vehicle is moving. It may be necessary to stop more often than would occur on a standard test but the examiner should explain that this is perfectly normal. Once you have stopped the examiner will turn to face you and will use the prompt cards as necessary to explain what is required – if an interpreter is accompanying you they can also be involved and your driving instructor could act as an interpreter if you prefer.

Your driving instructor should explain the use of the Deaf Customer Support Pack and should introduce its use during lessons so you become fully familiar with it well before taking your test.

Updated 30.11.2023