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Special needs and the practical driving test

What adjustments are made by the examiner when someone with a hearing difficulty, physical disability or with a learning difficulty is taking a practical driving test?

No matter how serious your disability might be you still have to take the same driving test as every other test candidate. Special provision may be made for people with a hearing difficulty, physical disability or learning difficulty to allow additional time to be allocated. This ensures the examiner has time to communicate with candidates with hearing difficulties (using written notes, with the aid of lip reading or sign language – with an interpreter if necessary), has time to discuss any physical disability and adaptations that may be needed and has time to discuss any special requirements that would help to overcome learning difficulties or special educational needs. The additional time allocation would also allow the pupil to take a break during the course of the test if, for example, fatigue is an issue. Extra time allocation does not mean the test candidate will be driving for any longer or doing any additional tasks but merely allows extra time at the start of the test and allows for the possibility of taking a break part way through the test if it is necessary.

The practical test can be taken in either a manual or an automatic car depending on your needs; if you pass your test in an automatic you will be restricted to only driving vehicles with automatic transmission and your licence will be coded accordingly. Physical disability may mean you need an automatic but people with special educational needs or hearing difficulties may be perfectly capable of driving a standard manual car. If adaptations are required the examiner will record the restriction codes required on the Pass Certificate, these codes will then appear on your full driving licence (on the rear of the plastic card).

When booking a practical driving test anyone with a hearing difficulty, physical disability or learning difficulty must state the details on the booking form or declare them when booking by phone, details of any special needs will then be recorded and passed on to the driving test examiner. A decision is made as to whether an “extra time” allocation is required and the booking is then made. A short but useful leaflet “Your needs and the driving test” is produced by Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Extra time allocation may be required:

  • If you are deaf or have severe hearing difficulties.
  • If you have learning difficulties or special educational needs.
  • If you are in any way restricted in your movements.
  • If you have any physical disability.
  • If you have any missing limbs.
  • If your medical condition prevents conventional operation of the standard controls of a manual car.

Practical driving tests can be booked on line at:

If in doubt book by phone and discuss your special needs with the booking centre:

DVSA Driving test booking centre: 0300 200 1122.

Special needs accommodations may be required by test candidates with physical disabilities, specific learning difficulties or hearing difficulties. An advice sheet for driving instructors explaining the accommodations that have been agreed by DVSA is available by clicking on Special Needs Accommodations for practical test, Advice to ADIs