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Archive for June, 2015

17 JunThree go live

Interpreters Live

Three, has teamed up with sign language interpreting agency, Sign Solutions, to improve access for their Deaf customers.

The introduction of Sign Solutions’ InterpretersLive! video relay service, now allows Deaf customers to communicate with Three’s customer service team using British Sign Language (BSL).

By following a link on the Three website, Deaf customers can connect to an online, fully qualified sign language interpreter, who relays the conversation between them and Three in real time.

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04 JunUK Council on Deafness welcomes Access to Work research but remains concerned about cap on awards

The UK Council on Deafness welcomes the Department for Work and Pensions’ desire to establish the return on investment delivered by Access to Work.

The need for research was identified in the equality analysis for the future of Access to Work. It said, “establishing the return on investment delivered by Access to Work will build the case for increased funding”.

David Buxton, director of the British Deaf Association and chair of the UK Council on Deafness Access to Work special interest group, said: “We’re pleased the DWP has listened and is committed to basing its decisions on good evidence.

“But in a recent meeting with officials we made it clear DWP needs to urgently explore the risk posed to the employment of deaf people by the Minister’s decision to cap Access to Work awards. Before it comes into effect in October DWP must ask employees and employers who rely on Access to Work what will happen if the cost of support can’t be reduced.

“They say in the equality analysis they did not have the evidence to be able to quantify the risks, which will ‘depend on employer behaviour’. But as the number of people affected is relatively small, they and their employers could easily have been contacted.

“We also asked DWP how they are going to support people who will be affected by the cap. They and their employers are going to need help dealing with this change to the basis of the scheme.

“Access to Work has always provided support needed above and beyond reasonable adjustments. But that has now changed – it is the people who need lots of support that are being penalised by this cap.

“Of the 200 people we know will be affected by the cap, 90 per cent are deaf or have a hearing loss. They are likely to have jobs that require them to attend lots of meetings and conferences, which is why they need more support.

“I wrote to the Minister for Disabled People in March expressing our concern that the cap suggests there is a legitimate limit on the worth and aspiration of disabled people. These people have worked hard to get to where they are today, and we need to continue to invest in them for their benefit, their employers’ benefit and the benefit of society as a whole.

“We therefore hope the research into the scheme’s return on investment will make the case not only for increased funding but reversing the decision to cap awards.”

04 JunCampaign – Subtitles for Video on Demand

Last year we held a conference together with Sense and Action on Hearing Loss.  A big topic of discussion at the event was the political landscape and the Government’s pledge to consider legislation on subtitles for Video on Demand content in 2016 “if it is clear that progress isn’t being made”.

Consensus emerged at the conference that we should work together to define what we would see as ‘progress’ by 2016. In the months following the conference RNIB, Sense and Action on Hearing Loss have worked together to develop a ‘Defining progress’ document.  The document can be viewed here 

This document has now been shared with a range of contacts including broadcasters and the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

Please urge the Government to act

Now the dust has settled after the general election we know that Ed Vaizey will be retaining his post as Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy. It is important that we remind him of his Department’s promise to review legislation in 2016, and urge him to adopt the progress target for broadcaster that we have identified.

Subtitle it Logo.jpg

Action on Hearing Loss has developed a simple campaign action that you can use to email Ed Vaizey about this issue.

Please take action here.

Please share with your colleagues

01 JunAccess to Work to change guidance on ‘additionality’

Access to Work is to rewrite its guidance on ‘additionality’ that has led to some deaf people losing all financial support for sign language interpreting.

The decision came after the UK Council on Deafness and others brought it to the attention of officials at the Department of Work and Pensions. Last week they released a statement saying, “guidance in this area had been applied incorrectly, advisers have received clarification on this issue and steps will now be taken to rectify the situation”.

Access to Work will now be contacting people who asked for the decision to withdraw their support to be reconsidered. People who have been affected by the wrong interpretation of the guidance but haven’t yet requested a reconsideration should contact Access to Work.

In the past few months, deaf people working with both deaf and hearing people were dismayed to learn the support they had been receiving to pay for sign language interpreters was being stopped. The reason given was that if a hearing person was doing the job they would need an interpreter to communicate with the deaf people. Access to Work therefore decided there was no extra cost to the employer.

Jim Edwards, chair of the UK Council on Deafness, said: “People who are deaf or deafblind have been the most affected by the changes made to Access to Work, and they will be most affected by the cap on awards. These constant problems make the community feel it is being singled out, and that’s not right.

“In this case a significant issue was cleared up relatively quickly, but some users of Access to Work have again paid the price for a mistaken interpretation of guidance. It happened with the guidance about employing a support worker, and now this.

“So we have stressed to them that they need to look closely at how interpretations of guidance quickly become ‘rules’ applied by all advisers. We are asking the Department to ‘road test’ future changes to policy and related guidance before implementation.”