Q10: reading

This advice applies to Wales. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland

What the question means

This question is about how your condition makes it difficult for you to:

  • read information that is a standard text size (not large print)

  • read signs - for example, emergency exit signs

  • read indoors and outside

Base your answers on reading and understanding information in your own language and how you cope with long sentences or something like a gas bill, timetable or bank statement.  

The DWP is not interested in your English language skills or how well you remember things.

Tick box question 10a 

"Does your condition affect your ability to read?"

  • Yes

  • No

You should probably tick “Yes” if you: 

  • use large print or audio formats

  • use special lamps or lights to help you read 

  • need to take rest breaks while reading 

  • use an aid either all the time or sometimes - for example, you only use a blue screen indoors 

  • have a learning disability

  • have a physical or mental condition that stops you from being able to read

  • need someone to help or encourage you to read - for example, they read a menu for you

  • need someone to explain written or printed information to you

  • need help from someone but don't get it

  • can’t read words at all including on a sign

Question 10b

"Tell us about the difficulties you have with reading words or symbols and how you manage them."


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

If you use Braille, make sure you say this. 

It’s your chance to give the DWP a true picture of how your condition affects your ability to read and understand information. They'll use this to decide if you get PIP.

You can also use this space to explain what help you need but don't get.

Aids you use

List the aids you use to help you read indoors and outside, and make it clear if you have to use large print or audio formats.

Never miss any aids off your list because you think it's obvious, and always:

  • explain how they help you

  • make it clear if a health professional advised you to use them

  • include any that would help you if you had them

Worth knowing 

Explain if you use an aid to reduce mental or physical symptoms (like discomfort, blurred vision or squinting) when reading. Make it clear if it only reduces that feeling and that you still experience something. 

Someone reads for you or helps you

Make it clear if you need help but don't get any. 

If you do get help, say who helps you (for example, a relative or friend) and explain: 

  • why you need help - it's important to say if you can't read because of a physical or mental condition, such as a learning disability

  • how they help - for example, they may read your post to you

  • how often they help

  • if you need their help indoors, outside or both - for example, you may cope at home but outdoors you rely on people to read maps, street names or menus for you

  • if you need them on hand - for example, to make sure you're safe because you find it hard to judge distances

Always explain what happens (or would happen) if you don't get help. Consider if: 

  • you're more likely to have an accident - for example, you have difficulties reading an emergency exit sign 

  • you're more likely to have mental or physical symptoms like headaches or strained eyes

  • it'll take you at least twice as long to read and understand something as someone without your condition 

Time it takes

Think about the time it takes you to locate or read street signs or shop names or to read menus, letters, bills or timetables for buses and trains. 

Make it clear if it takes you twice as long to do these things as someone without your condition. 

Try to explain how long it takes. It's ok to estimate but say if you are. If it's too hard to estimate explain why  - for example, because your condition fluctuates. 

Remember to: 

  • include time for breaks if you need them 

  • explain if it takes you even longer on a bad day 

  • say if find it more difficult to read and understand something the more often you have to do it in a day 

Good days and bad days

Explain how you cope on both good days and bad and how you manage over a longer period of time (like a week). This gives the DWP a better picture of how you cope most of the time.

Make it clear:

  • if you have good days and bad days

  • how often you have bad days

  • if you have bad days more often than not

  • how your difficulties and symptoms differ on good days and bad - for example, on bad days you find it hard to focus on an object, judge sizes or distances or cope in bright sunlight

It's ok to estimate your bad days but say if you are. If it's too difficult to estimate - explain why. For example, because your condition fluctuates.

Symptoms like tired eyes, squinting, blurred vision or dizziness

Explain whether the difficulties you have reading and understanding information cause you any physical or mental symptoms (like dizziness, blurred vision, poor hand to eye coordination or motion sickness).  

It's helpful to explain the symptoms and give an example, including: 

  • how often you have them

  • how long they last

  • if you get them indoors or outdoors 

  • how they make it difficult for you to read and understand 

  • if they make it difficult for you to carry out the other tasks in the PIP claim form - for example, preparing a meal or following a route 

Safety risks

Tell the DWP if you have or might get into danger because you have trouble reading.

For example, you should mention if you’ve ever had trouble reading:

  • important signs such as an emergency exit

  • safety information on medicine or household products

Make it clear:

  • why it can happen

  • how often it can happen

  • how badly it could affect you

  • how you try to prevent it - for example, you rely on someone to explain things for you

  • if it's because someone didn't help you

  • if it's because you get confused or have trouble remembering

If you're affected by sight loss

The Royal National Institute of Blind People has more help filling in your PIP claim form

Help with question 11: mixing with other people

Back to Help Filling in your PIP Claim Form

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