Special Educational Needs: Visual Impairment

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th February 2019.

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Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps is he taking to ensure that young people with a visual impairment receive appropriately adapted national tests and exam papers, including past papers.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) develops modified versions of national curriculum tests in enlarged print (key stage 2 only), modified large print and braille (key stages 1 and 2). They are primarily designed for pupils with visual impairments, although they may be suitable for pupils with other needs. Schools can request permission from STA to open key stage 2 tests up to 5 days early if they need to make further adaptations to the test materials to meet a pupil’s specific needs. Past versions of the modified tests are available so that schools can help pupils prepare and to ensure the materials meet their needs.

Ofqual is the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. As well as requiring regulated awarding organisations to comply with Equalities Law, Ofqual’s General Conditions of Recognition require awarding organisations to monitor their qualifications for any feature which could disadvantage a group of students who share a particular protected characteristic, including those who have a disability due to visual impairment. Under the Equality Act 2010, awarding organisations are required to make reasonable adjustments to assessments for disabled students. Awarding organisations can – and do – make a wide range of adjustments to their assessments, including modifying exam papers (e.g. producing large-print or braille versions).

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