The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has entered a legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to improve support for deaf customers accessing its services by telephone.
Two advisers raised a complaint with the EHRC on behalf of four hearing-impaired people who needed to use the telephone service with a British Sign Language interpreter to help them decide whether or not to apply for a home loan.
All four disabled people faced difficulties in dealing with staff from DWP and Serco who didn’t know how to arrange the interpreting service. One out of the four managed to book an interpreter, but only after three months of difficulty.
In its agreement with the EHRC, the DWP has committed to an action plan to address the problems these complaints identified.
The action plan commits DWP to:
- Provide a Video Relay Service (VRS) across telephony services for all benefits and services. VRS enables deaf users to contact DWP via video relay using an interpreter;
- Ensure customers can easily locate what they need in order to request information in alternative accessible formats;
- Improve their customer information system so disabled people’s communication needs are recorded and shared;
- Improve the use of Equality Analysis in the design and delivery of all changes.
The EHRC will monitor DWP’s action plan on a monthly basis to ensure the agreed steps have been completed.
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