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Examination arrangements for disabled persons


Date of Meeting: 27 June 2001

Asked by : Hon CHAN Yuen-han

Replied by : Secretary for Education and Manpower

Question :

It has been reported that a candidate in this year's Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination ("HKCEE"), who suffers from hearing impairment and mild spastics, has complained about the improper arrangements made by the Hong Kong Examinations Authority ("HKEA"), alleging that he had not been provided with suitable auxiliary aids and allowed additional examination time for taking the examinations. Regarding the arrangements for disabled candidates sitting public examinations, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the number of disabled candidates in public examinations (including the HKCEE and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination) in each of the past five years;

  2. of the number of complaints received by HKEA from disabled candidates about the examination arrangements for them over the past five years, and the details of such complaints;

  3. whether disabled candidates are required to take the examinations at designated venues where auxiliary aids are available, or whether the necessary auxiliary aids are sent to the examination venues concerned according to the needs of individual candidates;

  4. of the criteria adopted by HKEA in determining the additional examination time to be allowed for each disabled candidate; and

  5. whether HKEA has considered increasing or replacing the auxiliary aids for disabled candidates; and whether the authorities will review the existing examination arrangements for such candidates; if it will, of the specific timetable; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

a. The Hong Kong Examination Authority (HKEA) has always made special examination arrangements for disabled candidates. The numbers of disabled candidates sitting for the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE) over the past five years are set out in Annex I.
b. In the past five years, HKEA has only received 13 complaints from disabled candidates. The figures are as follows:

1997 0 0
1998 0 0
1999 2 2
2000 1 4
2001 2 2

The complaints received were mainly about insufficient examination time and poor radio reception quality in listening tests.
c. In general, HKEA will arrange disabled candidates to take examinations at special venues and provide them with relevant auxiliary aids. Candidates who require special assistance can also make their requests when applying to sit for the examinations, so that appropriate arrangements can be made by HKEA. For example, in this year's HKCEE, special examination venues, both on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, including ten for written examinations and five for oral examinations, have been set up for disabled candidates. Besides, special invigilators have been sent to oversee the examinations at these venues so as to provide disabled candidates with appropriate assistance during the examinations.
d. HKEA will determine the additional examination time to be allowed for physically disabled and visually impaired candidates according to the circumstances in each case.

The "Guidelines on the Extension of Examination Time for Candidates with Physical Disabilities" requires physically disabled candidates to take a writing speed test before any decision is made on the additional time to be allowed for them to take the written examinations. The test consists of two parts, one in Chinese and the other in English. The additional time allowed for these candidates to complete a written examination normally will not exceed 75% of the original examination time. Where additional time is allowed for answering long questions, extra time will also be granted for answering multiple-choice questions, but normally the extended time for the latter will only be half of that for the former. Candidates who are allowed additional time may have a break if the examination lasts for more than 90 minutes. Depending on the conditions of individual candidates, there will usually be a 5-minute break for every 45 minutes of examination time or a 10-minute break for every 90 minutes of examination time. During the breaks, candidates are not allowed to continue writing.

The "Guidelines on the Extension of Examination Time for Candidates with Visual Impairment" stipulates that for blind candidates, an extra 45 minutes may be allowed for every hour of examination time for answering long questions, while an additional 15 minutes for every hour may be granted for answering multi-choice questions. As for visually-impaired candidates, the time extended for each examination hour for answering long questions and multi-choice questions are 30 minutes and 15 minutes respectively. Moreover, HKEA will provide visually-impaired candidates with examination papers printed in braille or larger font size.
e. At present, the auxiliary aids provided by HKEA to disabled candidates for meeting their needs include braille-writter, personal computer and CCTV magnifier. Since all existing auxiliary aids are functioning well, HKEA has no intention to make more purchases or to replace them. However, it will monitor any technological developments in this respect, conduct regular reviews and make new procurement as required.

In 2000, the Committee on Processing of Applications for Candidates with Disabilities was set up under HKEA to handle examination issues concerning disabled candidates so as to make better arrangements for disabled candidates and to provide them with proper supporting services as well as relevant aids. The Committee conducts annual reviews on relevant guidelines and examination measures and submits reports to the School Examinations Board for approval. It also examines, with reference to the relevant guidelines, the recommendations put forward by the Secretariat on special arrangements for individual candidates, such as extended examination time and examination papers printed in larger font size or braille.
Annex 1
Number of Disabled Candidates Sitting for
HKCEE and HKALE in the Past Five Years

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Candidates with physical disabilities 56 62 74 72 75 9 14 15 29 34
Candidates with visual impairment 33 38 38 41 29 14 6 12 10 12
Candidates with hearing/ speech impairment 159 178 179 179 163 21 29 41 37 39
Total 248 278 291 292 267 44 49 68 76 85
Last revision date: 27 June 2001
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