Do you have a hearing or speaking disability?

Most Cambridge English qualifications include a Listening and a Speaking test. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have difficulties speaking, we may be able to help you take your exam.

What do I need to do?

It may take several months for some special arrangements to be made for you, so you should make your application as soon as possible through your Centre.

What will the Cambridge English Authorised Exam Centre do?

Your Centre will:

  • tell you the application deadline (this may be several months before your exam, depending on the special arrangements you need)
  • ask for full details of your difficulty
  • make the arrangements you need to take the exam

If your Centre does not have the equipment or space you need (e.g. a separate room), they will do their best to help you to find another Centre that does. Your Centre may also ask you to provide a medical certificate.

What special arrangements can I ask for?

There are lots of different options – choose what you need from the list below. You or your teacher can then ask your Centre to make the arrangements you need.

1. Hearing aids, headphones and other equipment

Most Cambridge English qualifications have a Listening test, where candidates:

  • read some questions which are printed on a question paper
  • listen to a recording
  • write answers to the questions on a separate answer sheet

If you have hearing difficulties, here are some ways we can help you:

  • If you normally use a hearing aid, you may use it in the exam, but remember to tell your Centre before the test.
  • If you normally use devices such as wireless systems or personal FM systems, you may ask the Centre for permission to use this type of equipment.
  • If you can hear with the help of headphones or special amplification equipment, you may ask the Centre for permission to use this type of equipment to hear the recording.
  • If you are using headphones, the supervisor (the person who will give you your Listening test) must be able to hear and control the recording. This means they will listen to an external loudspeaker or use a second pair of headphones. You are not allowed to use a personal CD player, MP3 player or other similar device to listen to the recording.
  • If you are using special equipment, such as special amplification equipment, the Centre will normally give you your exam in a separate room.

2. Hearing-impaired (lip-reading) versions of Listening tests

For some exams, you can ask for a hearing-impaired (lip-reading) version of a Listening test. Instead of playing a recording, the supervisor (the person who will give you your Listening test) will read out the material to you. They will read out each text two or three times, depending on the exam. The supervisor will stop reading from time to time during the second reading. This will give you time to write your answers.

Make sure you:

  • can lip-read a person who is speaking English
  • practise with sample papers before the exam

It may be possible for you to practise lip-reading with the person who will give you your Listening test before you take the exam. Ask your Centre.

3. Special arrangements for Speaking tests

For most Cambridge English Speaking tests (except Young Learners), you take your test with a
partner. If you have hearing or speaking difficulties, you can ask to:

  • have extra time if it takes you longer than usual to say things or to understand what people say to you
  • take the test with a partner who is not a candidate (for example, a friend who is not taking the exam). This may help you to lip-read what they say more easily
  • take the test without a partner – in the parts of the test which usually ask both candidates to talk to each other, you talk to the examiner instead

You are not allowed to use signing in a Speaking test.

4. Exemptions and Endorsed Certificates

If you have severe hearing (and/or speaking) difficulties, and the special arrangements listed above are not enough (for example, if you cannot lip-read), you can ask for exemption from taking the Listening test and/or the Speaking test in certain exams. This means you do not have to take the test(s).

For all Cambridge English exams, you must apply for exemption before taking your exam. Ask your Centre for further information. You can apply for exemption in:

  • Proficiency
  • Advanced
  • First
  • Preliminary
  • Key
  • Business Certificates

If you are allowed exemption from the Listening test and/or the Speaking test and pass the other parts of the exam, you will receive an Endorsed Certificate. This means it will have the following sentence printed on your certificate: ‘The candidate was exempt from satisfying the full range of assessment objectives in the examination.’

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