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Q7 - communicating (hearing and reading)

This advice applies to Wales

This question is on page 11 of the form - see what it looks like

ESA50 page 11

How to answer the question

This question is about whether you have difficulties understanding what people say to you, and if you have problems reading.

If you use an aid, such as a hearing aid you should answer the questions as if you're using it.

You can explain the aids you use and how they help you in the box on the form.

"Can you understand simple messages from other people by hearing or lip reading without the help of another person?"

  • No
  • Yes
  • It varies

Don't feel embarrassed if you have to tick "no", for example if:

  • you're deaf or have hearing loss and you don't lip read
  • you can manage to lip-read people you know, but not strangers
  • you need a sign language interpreter
  • you sometimes misunderstand things you're told

"Can you understand simple messages from other people by reading large size print or using Braille?"

  • No
  • Yes
  • It varies

Again, don't feel embarrassed if you have to tick "no", for example if you're visually impaired and you don't use braille.

What to write in the box

It's important you tell the DWP more by explaining your situation in the box.

If you use any aids to help you understand other people, or to help you read then give the details in the box.

Examples of aids you could use:

  • Braille, large print or audio formats
  • special lights to help you read
  • a hearing aid or an electro larynx
  • a text telephone or amplification equipment to help you hear

As well as writing about aids that help you, it's important to explain things like:

  • if it takes you a long time to read something, or to understand someone
  • if you use a sign language interpreter, and what would happen if you didn't have one
  • if someone reads things for you, or explains what others have said
  • how not being able to read something or hear someone has caused you problems
  • how you feel when you can't understand what is said or written


Liam says "I've been diagnosed as deaf so I try to lip read. I try to lip read a bit when I know the person well, but I can't really understand strangers. I can't understand what the person at the checkout is saying to me when I go shopping. I was really embarrassed last week because I wanted something in my size but I couldn't understand what the shop assistant was saying, so I left the shop without the thing I needed."

How the DWP assess this question

The DWP look at a list of statements called 'descriptors'. They'll give you a number of points depending on which descriptor applies to you.

The DWP add together all the points you get from the whole form. This means you can qualify for ESA even if you don't get all the points for this question.

Descriptors for question 7


7 (a) Cannot understand a simple message, such as the location of a fire escape, due to sensory impairment.

(b) Has significant difficulty understanding a simple message from a stranger due to sensory impairment. 15

(c) Has some difficulty understanding a simple message from a stranger due to sensory impairment.


(d) None of the above applies.


Next steps

Question 8: Getting around safely

Back to Help filling in your ESA form

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