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‘Parliament & Policy Work’ Category

24 JunCall for nationwide public health campaign

We have today sent a briefing to MPs calling for the Government to work towards a nationwide public health campaign on deafness and hearing loss.

We have prepared the briefing for the Parliamentary debate next week on the NHS Action Plan on Hearing Loss [PDF] and the adult hearing service commissioning framework

The debate was called by Jim Fitzpatrick MP, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness. It is at 3pm on Thursday 30 June in Westminster Hall.

Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “After much discussion with our members, we are agreed a nationwide public health campaign is in all our interests.

“The idea was first suggested by the common purpose awareness mission group. It was then endorsed by the common purpose steering group, our Board, the Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance, and our members who regularly attend APPG meetings.

“The common thread in all the things we are working on is the need for greater awareness. The public needs a better understanding of the impact of deafness and hearing loss. People who are deaf or have a hearing loss need better awareness of the services and other support available to them, and their rights. Hearing people need better awareness of how to protect their hearing and what to do if they start to experience a hearing loss. And government needs a better understanding of the impact of its policies on people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.

“A campaign will encourage people to take control of their life by having their hearing tested by their GP or provider of audiology services. It will urge them not to let deafness and hearing loss become a barrier to them being involved in education, employment, politics, community activity – all elements of society.

“And all our members will be able to use the campaign as a springboard, whether they are focused on increasing the number of lipspeaking classes, equal access for sign language users, or helping more deaf young people benefit from cochlear implants.

“We know there are challenges ahead. Public health budgets have been devolved and there are many competing health priorities. But the number of people who are deaf or have a hearing loss is in the millions and constantly rising. The NHS England Action Plan on Hearing Loss recognises the enormous personal, social and economic impact of untreated hearing loss. And The Ear Foundation estimates that economic cost to be £30bn a year.

“So if we stay committed to our common purpose and work together, it’s definitely something we can achieve.”

Download the briefing [RTF]

15 Jun30 June Parliamentary debate on deafness and hearing loss

APPG-logo-PORTCULLISThe APPG on Deafness, chaired by Jim Fitzpatrick MP, has secured a 90 minute debate on deafness and hearing loss in Westminster Hall at 3pm on Thursday 30 June.

Please tell the MPs you know about the debate, and encourage them to attend and speak. This is a great opportunity for us to make sure the government is aware of the range of issues faced by people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.

The motion for the debate is “that this House has considered the NHS England Action Plan on Hearing Loss and the new adult hearing service commissioning framework”. The framework is due to be published soon.

The debate will also be an opportunity to discuss issues of deafness and hearing loss in general, such as support into education and employment, and access for sign language users. For example, the Life Chances Strategy launched by the Prime Minister in January 2016 talked about the importance of support for families, education, and health and social care in supporting self reliance. Deaf people still face many barriers to accessing these services.

We are preparing a briefing for MPs ahead of the debate. While we know our members will be preparing their own, please feel free to tell us what you think should be included.


03 FebDWP pilots Access to Work personal budgets

On Monday the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, announced a pilot of personal budgets for the Access to Work scheme.

In a statement to Parliament he said: “We are trialling a new feature of the access to work scheme. From today we shall be testing the use of personal budgets, which will allow disabled people who have received grants to decide exactly how and when the money can best be used to support their individual needs. That gives them more choice and more control over the support they receive to help them to start work, to stay in work, or even to start a business.”

The announcement follows a statement made by the Minister for Disabled People in March 2015, which was the result of negotiations about the scheme with our Access to Work special interest group.

15 JanDWP trials access by telephone for sign language users

People who use British Sign Language (BSL) can now contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) via telephone.

DWP has begun a six month pilot of a service that allows people whose first or only language is BSL to contact DWP about Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance (65+), Disability Living Allowance (under 65) and Access to Work. Following the pilot the Department intends to provide the service via the Crown Commercial Service framework agreement for language services.

The video relay service (VRS), provided by SignVideo, connects the deaf person to a sign language interpreter via a camera on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. The hearing person at DWP will be connected to the interpreter via a telephone.

The service will be open to everyone during normal working hours. All someone has to do is click on the hyperlink on the relevant web page and they will be connected.

Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “The UK Council on Deafness is delighted DWP has taken this step to open up access for deaf people who use BSL. We trust the pilot will be successful and look forward to more government services becoming accessible, as they are in Scotland.

“We are also glad the Department has commissioned one of the companies that has voluntarily agreed to our standards for VRS. It means deaf people can be assured the interpreter will be registered with NRCPD or a member of SASLI, which means they will be properly qualified and follow a code of conduct.”

04 JanDWP seeks evidence for market review

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is seeking evidence for a review of the communication and language support market. The Department today published the call for evidence. The deadline for submissions is 4 March 2016. The review is being led by DWP but covers

  • the whole of the UK;
  • all forms of support that enable communication between deaf, deafblind and hearing people; and
  • all settings, including education, employment, health and social care, the arts, and sport.

The review will seek to estimate current and future supply and demand in the UK, but international evidence is welcome. It will also consider the current and future impact of technology on the market, such as video relay services.

All interested organisations and individuals that have relevant information or experience are invited to make a submission. In particular, unpublished data and research are welcome.

Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “This review is the welcome outcome of collaboration between DWP and the deaf sector over the past two years. It’s great to see government departments and the UK Council on Deafness leading it together.

“The review will help us understand what we need to do to make sure deaf and deafblind people have equal access to all walks of life. I encourage anyone who has relevant evidence to send it to DWP.”

If you have any questions about the review, please contact DWP via

The questions

What is the size and value of the demand for the different types of communication and language support in the UK?

How might this demand change in the future?

What is the number of communication and language professionals nationally and the type and level of skills that are on offer?

How might this supply change in the future?

What are the types of technology currently available that facilitate communication and the future developments in the pipeline?

How might an increasing uptake of both current technology and new developments affect the market for communication and language services in the future?