Graham Carter (Specialist teacher adviser, visual impairment)

Taking GCSEs is not a barrier for the pupils with visual impairment because the exam boards are all expected to provide reasonable adjustments. You can request a paper in braille, a large print paper or the modified large print paper where they provide, for example, a description if the pupil is not able to see the picture. Pupils are allowed to use a laptop.

They're allowed to have a reader or an amanuensis to scribe for them and you can apply for additional time for them to complete their exam.

Rory Cobb (RNIB National development officer, Qualifications and curriculum)

There should really be no barriers to anyone with a visual impairment being able to take public exams and qualifications. There are tried and tested systems and, in most cases, it is just a question of ensuring access. It's important to line up the way that a student is working in class with the access arrangements that are going to be available when they take the exam.

There are particular instances where the skills that are being assessed may require visual knowledge and understanding and so people do need to find out what a qualification requires before they enter it.

The idea of access arrangements is to remove disadvantage, not to give you an unfair advantage over other candidates. You can't ask for arrangements that conflict with the skills or the competences that are being assessed by a particular qualification so, for example you can't ask for practical assistance to do things in say a science exam if you were being assessed on those skills yourself.

If you're trying to gain a qualification, you have to be able to demonstrate that you've earned that qualification on equal terms to other people.