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Learning to drive can be challenging enough, but those with dyslexia can often suffer in silence without help across the many facets of the learning to drive process. Below are some of the tools and resources available to help you or your pupils get on the road.

Challenges caused by Dyslexia

While we remember that dyslexia and its symptoms can be as unique as the person who has it, there are some common factors worth remembering. Most importantly the person who has dyslexia is likely the best source of information about their own strengths and weaknesses. Having a brainstorming session and putting strategies in place can really help.

Remembering Lefts and Rights – This is the most recognised issue in driving, but isn’t exclusive to dyslexics. Many instructors just move their language to ‘My side, Your side’ or ‘To me, To you’ and if declared when booking most examiners will also adapt their language for you. They may also offer hand signals.

Number plates – The registration plate of a vehicle is used for testing the legal eyesight requirement. Some Dylsexics find the Black on White or Black on Yellow easier to read. This can be requested on booking or at the start of the test. You are also allowed to write down the number plate if it is easier to do so.

Memory – Traditionally driving instructors have taught using lots of letters like MSPSL, LADA, or POM. These aren’t very dyslexia friendly, and an understanding instructor will try to find alternatives. Some dyslexics will find the quantity of information and steps challenging, benefitting from a breakdown into smaller steps until they have processed it.

Sat Navs and Roadsigns – 20 minutes of the driving test is Sat Nav and/or Roadsigns. Sadly they don’t adapt their language! However, if you have a preferred option examiners will try to favour it where possible. (Again, record this on the booking under SEN test)

EXCITING TOOL for personal use:

The DITC has launched a Dyslexia friendly version of SatNav instructions in either “Driver side/Passenger side” or “My side/Your side” versions using the Waze SatNav App (Feedback and suggested changes welcome)

Download Driver/Passenger Version here

Download My side/Your side Version here

It isn’t a fail! – Most importantly, the test is about safe and legal driving. It doesn’t matter if you go the wrong way as long as you do it safely and legally.

The Theory Test – This can be a massive challenge for some as it is a written/read test. There is help available (see below) and the DVSA have made changes to make it more dyslexia friendly.

‘Translating’ the word pictures into a road situation can be challenging, as well as remembering and recalling the various options. Everyone can request a voiceover on booking. This is a recorded voice that reads the questions and answers over headphones. Be aware the gender and accent may vary between questions. Some apps have this as an option including DVSA and Theory Test Pro.

There is help available, though you will be asked to provide evidence of the issues reading or processing. This includes:

  • Extra time
  • Seperate room
  • Reader
  • Recorder
  • OLM – Oral Language Modifier – Someone who can rephrase non-technical wording.

Be aware some of these options may be restricted due to COVID and social distancing issues. More information can be found from GOV.uk and Disability Driving Instructors.

How to study for the Theory Test

There are lots of apps available for revising, but much less in the way of dyslexia friendly theory training. As well as the challenge of processing the Question and Answers, comprehension can be a challenge. This is because there are technical, specialist words (dual carriageway, contraflow…) and because the theory questions can include uncommon words (gradient instead of a hill or douse meaning to cover with water as examples).

There is an increasing number of Theory specialists that provide teaching rather than just revision. You can find out more from our partners at Theory Test Explained who deliver 1:1 Zoom Theory Training.

Useful resources:

Disability Driving Instructors – https://www.disabilitydrivinginstructors.com

Theory Test Explained – https://theorytestexplained.co.uk

L of a Way to Pass – https://www.lofaway2pass.com/learner-drivers/

Posted by Chris Bensted

October 4, 2021

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