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JCQ changes makes it more straight forward for dyslexics to get a reader/computer reader for exams

Friday 2 August 2019

British Dyslexia Association, who have been working with JCQ, are pleased that JCQ has simplified this important access arrangement for dyslexics. JCQ has removed the assessment and completion of Form 8 parts of the application process for those needing a reader (either a computer or human) in Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments 2019-20. Now, dyslexics will be able to have reader so long as it reflects their normal way of work and that this is evidenced by the school’s SENCO.

The removal of the need for assessment evidence and the completion of Form 8 for this access arrangement is a sensible and pragmatic approach by JCQ that will encourage schools and education providers to maximise their use of technology, levelling the playing field for dyslexics in education.

It is hoped that the change will encourage more schools to invest in providing laptops for dyslexic pupils, establishing text-to-speech technology as part of their normal way of working. This will mean the dyslexic pupil can take advantage of these changes, reducing the administrative burden on the school and the cost of providing a human reader. Using such technology enables the pupil to gain independence and reduces the stigma of having to rely on others to access the written word.

It will also mean the pupil will get used to working in a way that is reflective of the workplace, where text-to-speech software is mainstream.

Helen Boden, CEO, British Dyslexia Association, said: “This announcement is great news for young people with dyslexia and schools. It is simpler whilst maintaining standards and is more reflective of the world of work.

“Being able to use computer technology more easily in exams we hope will see it become more mainstream, embedding technology in all educational settings leading to greater equality and higher attainment levels for those candidates with learning difficulties like dyslexia.

“The British Dyslexia Association has worked with JCQ and its awarding body members for many years to reduce the bureaucracy and burden for schools and colleges. They have been leaders in recognising the pressures SENCOs in particular are under, and ensuring pragmatic and common-sense solutions.”

Specifically, the JCQ guidance says: “The SENCO must produce a short concise file note on centre headed paper, signed and dated, confirming the nature of the candidate’s impairment and that the use of a computer reader and/or a reader reflects his/her normal and current way of working within the centre.”

It goes on to stipulate that: “For candidates with learning difficulties assessment evidence and Form 8 is no longer required. However, the SENCO must be satisfied that the candidate has an impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect, giving rise to persistent and significant reading difficulties; and (The candidate is disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act.) There is a genuine need for the arrangement.”

They add that: “A computer reader/reader will be awarded on account of: cognition and learning needs; communication and interaction needs; a medical condition; sensory and physical needs; social, mental and emotional needs.”

The announcement does not just affect those with dyslexia. It is applicable to those with: “Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Learning Difficulties, Sensory and/or Physical Needs (HI, MSI, PD, VI) Social, Mental and Emotional Needs (e.g. ADD, ADHD) Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN).”

For more information on the announcement, visit the JCQ website: