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Driving theory test centre slammed for lack of wheelchair access

In the 21st Century, you’d expect that access to a building for a disabled person would be the norm. However, it would appear that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) hasn’t got the memo, after concerns were raised about a lack of wheelchair access at the Haverfordwest driving theory test centre…

What’s the story at Haverfordwest driving theory test centre? A mother recently raised concerns about disabled access at the driving theory test centre in Haverfordwest, after discovering that her son would be unable to sit his theory test at the facility because he uses a wheelchair.

The lack of disabled access sparked concerns for Alison Rathbone - whose 18-year-old son, Daniel, has cerebral palsy – as she feared that he would be forced to travel to Aberystwyth or Swansea to take his theory test.

The Haverfordwest theory centre, based at 34 High Street, is operated by private education contractor Pearson VUE. It is located on the first floor of the building, above a Barnardo’s charity shop, and is only accessible via a flight of stairs at the rear of the building on Castle Lake car park.

Driving theory test centre in Haverfordwest doesn’t offer equality

Ms Rathbone said: “I think it needs to be brought to people’s attention that when there is supposed to be equality, it doesn’t really apply to disabled people sitting their driving theory tests in Haverfordwest.”

Daniel has been learning to drive since September 2017, in a car that has been specially adapted for him by Motability, an initiative that enables people living with disabilities to drive.

Daniel’s theory test was originally booked for the end of December, but Ms Rathbone plans to reschedule it for February and is determined that her son will take the test in Haverfordwest. “Daniel would be exhausted from driving more than an hour to Swansea or Aberystwyth.”

Ms Rathbone did say that Daniel would be able to crawl up the stairs, but was worried that other disabled learner drivers would struggle do this.

Move to another building

Meanwhile, Daniel’s driving instructor, Mike Hughes of A1 Road Skills, believes that the Haverfordwest theory test centre should be moved to a more accessible building. He said: “There are plenty of other buildings the DVSA/Pearson Vue could use. There is no excuse, in this day and age of equality and diversity, for inaccessibility for disabled learner drivers.”

However, a DVSA spokesperson said: “There are no plans to adapt Haverfordwest theory test centre. However, we have a specialised team who are able to discuss any reasonable adjustments for anyone with disabilities.”

"We're committed to making sure anyone who’s capable of being a safe and responsible driver has the opportunity to pass their driving tests – both theory and practical. We will make reasonable adjustments so that that anyone with a disability can sit their driving theory test with ease,” the spokesperson added.

It’s not the first time Haverfordwest theory test centre has been slammed over disabled access. In the past, it has refuted claims that a learner drive had to crawl up the stairs to sit their test.

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