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Taking the DVSA Theory Test if you have Special Needs – what help is available and how do you book it

When you book your Theory Test you should say if you’ve got any special needs, in many cases, additional support may be available to help you during the test.

(If you are looking for help studying for the theory test, go to the following page): “Studying for the Theory Test if you have Special Needs – what study aids are available to help you?”

Special needs accommodations available from DVSA when taking the theory test

If you have hearing difficulties or learning difficulties causing problems with reading or writing and required additional help with schoolwork or taking examinations at school or college, then you may be able to get additional support with the Multiple Choice Theory Test.

Please note that you can only take the theory test in English, Welsh or, for Deaf candidates, British Sign Language. Additional support is not provided in any other language.

The following additional support does NOT require proof of special needs:

  • Deaf candidates can request an on-screen BSL interpreter or they can request a face-to-face BSL interpreter (no proof of hearing difficulty is required but this must be booked in advance – tick the box when booking the test). For details see the following page – Studying for and taking the theory test if you are deaf
  • Computer voiceover: English or Welsh spoken test using a head set is available for any test candidate, no proof of special needs is required but this must be booked in advance – tick the box when booking the test.
  • Coloured Overlay Clings: these are available from DVSA as a solution to reading problems, headaches, light sensitivity, ADD and ADHD, autism and other ailments. No proof of special needs is required but this must be booked in advance; on the theory test application form the candidate will need to select ‘the support type I want is not here’, the contact centre agent will then either call or email the candidate to confirm what support they require, alternatively they could select the ‘other’ box, which provides them with a free text box where they can advise DVSA of their requirements. The overlay clings will be supplied by the individual test centres and DVSA will liaise with the candidate to ensure that the correct colour of overlay tint is supplied – tick the box that says “The support type I want is not here”.

Proof of special needs IS required for all of the following accommodations:

  • Extra time to take the test (up to double the normal time).
  • The option of a face to face reader/recorder is available; this is where a person, provided by the theory test provider sits next to the candidate and reads the questions and answers word for word, as they appear on the computer screen; they then record the answer given by the candidate (the reader is not permitted to explain the meaning of the English language used for the questions and answers).
  • Oral Language Modification (OLM); this is where the reader can reword the theory test questions to make them easier to understand – in exceptional cases, where the candidate has severe difficulty understanding the meaning of the language used for the test, the reader can explain the meaning and reword the questions to make them easier to understand; technical terms (e.g. anti-lock braking system) may not be reworded.
  • Private environment / separate room may also be available on request if the candidate can demonstrate that they would be seriously distracted by other people in the same room; this may be necessary for people with developmental conditions who have difficulty with social interaction (in more extreme situations a home test may be more appropriate – see below). A separate room may also be needed if other candidates would be distracted by the special needs accommodations being used.
  • Home tests – In exceptional circumstances, and with evidence of need, DVSA can also do the theory test in your home.

If you require OLM, a separate room, a home test or any other accommodation that is not listed you should tick the box that says “The support type I want is not here”.

Hazard Perception Test

The only special allowance made when taking the Hazard Perception Test (HPT) is the facility to pause the test between clips for people who suffer with motion sickness; coloured overlays to go over the computer screen may help with this and can also be used for the HPT.

For people with more severe physical restrictions who have difficulty using a standard mouse for the HPT, the option of using a bespoke mouse could be requested. If you need to supply your own bespoke equipment this can be arranged but you would need to discuss it with DVSA – tick the box that says “The support type I want is not here” if this is required.

To apply for a Special Needs Theory Test:

All special needs requirements must be notified to DVSA when booking the theory test – tick the box to say that you want additional support for your test. Requests for additional support when taking the theory test and notification of special needs must be made via the on-line booking service:

Standard Accommodations: headphones & computer voice-over and the on-screen BSL interpreter service do not require proof of special needs but must be requested when you make the on-line booking – tick the box and this will be arranged for you. The booking can be completed and paid for on-line if you choose either of these options.

Non-standard Accommodations: If the candidate needs extra time, a face to face reader/recorder, if an OLM test is required or if a separate room is necessary then proof of Special Needs will be required. The booking will not be able to be completed on-line, DVSA will contact you to explain what proof is required and where you need to send it. The same procedure should be followed for Deaf candidates requiring a face-to-face BSL interpreter but no proof of hearing difficulty is required. If the booking cannot be completed on-line; enter all the details you can and leave your contact details, DVSA will provide you with a booking reference and then contact you by phone or email to discuss the accommodations requested, they will also explain what proof is required and tell you how to send it.

DVSA are currently advising candidates to notify them of any special needs when they book the theory test, but you can start the booking process before you are ready to take the test and state that you will decide when and where you wish to take the test later; this would give you additional time to get the necessary proof of special needs and for DVSA to consider this proof.

Proof of Special Needs for non-standard accommodations

Deaf candidates needing a face-to-face BSL interpreter do not need to provide proof of hearing difficulties but requests for other non-standard accommodations will need to be supported with proof of special needs – a letter or email from School / College (stating what Special Needs provision was made when taking tests/exams) or from your GP (detailing the medical condition and Special Needs requirements) on headed paper should be sufficient.

It has also been confirmed that DVSA will accept online dyslexia screening products assured by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) as proof of Special Needs – this would be suitable for those out of education or those who have not been formally diagnosed; see the BDA website which contains a link to the Quick Screen Dyslexia test from Pico Educational Systems Ltd an online dyslexia screening product assured by the BDA. This proof should be adequate for those requesting extra time or a face-to-face reader/recorder.

If you have had a Driving Mobility Assessment or are taking part in the Driving Mobility Theory Test Support Project, currently available at QEF Mobility Services (Carshalton), Herts Ability (Welwyn Garden City), Cornwall Mobility (Exeter and Plymouth, Tel – 01872 672318), and William Merritt Disabled Living Centre (Leeds), a report from the Occupational Therapist conducting the assessment will provide proof that should be accepted by DVSA if extra time or a face-to-face reader/recorder is being requested.

For OLM tests, evidence of severe difficulties in language comprehension will be required by DVSA. This evidence would normally state that OLM has been required when taking exams at school or college and would take the form of a statement of educational needs from an educational professional or a report showing comprehension scores (which would need to equate to below 8 years of age) to warrant the service; a JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) Form 8 showing a cognitive processing standardised score of 69 or less would also warrent the service. For those out of formal education a report from any educational establishment attended or from a medical professional explaining the severe difficulties in language comprehension will be considered. For those people who are taking part in the Driving Mobility Theory Test Support Project, the initial screening assessment should identify those who are eligible for OLM and a supporting report from the Occupational Therapist conducting the assessment may be accepted by DVSA.

DVSA will consider the application and the evidence provided, they will then confirm back in writing that they have agreed to the request and will provide you with alternative dates for you to take the test at the test centre you have chosen, this letter will confirm the reference number that must be quoted when booking the test.

You should then contact the Customer Care Team by phone, on the number given in the confirmation letter, quoting the reference and requesting the extra time, a reader/recorder or an OLM test, whichever is needed and the most convenient test date to take the test; if you have difficulty getting through by phone send an email to the address provided on the confirmation letter with a contact telephone number and ask them to ring back (put ‘special needs accommodations’ in the subject box).

Payment for the test will be taken once the booking is completed.

Use of Side Room if additional support is required.

If a reader/recorder or OLM test is needed or if a face-to-face BSL interpreter is required the test would take place in a side room so that there is no interference or distraction from other people taking the test and so they are not distracted. If the side rooms are not available then the test centre could be closed off for the duration of the test. DVSA have put aside dedicated test slots for Special Needs tests requiring total test centre closure; waiting times for these tests may be longer.

Physical disabilities and access issues

If any specific requirements are needed due to physical disability (e.g. wheelchair access to the building, a height adjustable desk or if a bespoke design of computer mouse is needed) these should be arranged when booking the test.

Useful contacts

DVSA Theory Test Booking Service:

British Dyslexia Association:

Driving Mobility:

Updated 05.12.2023