The UK Council on Deafness has welcomed the Minister for Disabled People’s announcement of immediate changes to Access to Work.
David Buxton, chair of the UK Council on Deafness Access to Work group and chief executive of the British Deaf Association, said: “In particular, we are glad people will soon be able to contact Access to Work via email. It will mean deaf people will no longer need to keep explaining why they can’t speak to advisers on the telephone.
“We also look forward to the publication of user-friendly guidance and better data about how the scheme is performing. Whilst the guidance will be of immediate benefit to people who rely on the scheme, the performance data will help us all to better understand who it is helping and how.
“However, these changes must only be the beginning. Lots more needs to be done. For example, whilst email contact is a good step – although perhaps a little behind the times – people should be able to contact Access to Work and submit information via an online portal.
“And we can’t forget deaf people are still facing problems. The Minister draws our attention to improvements that have been made, but UK Council on Deafness members are still being told of people being refused the interpreting support they need.
“Self employed people are refused on technicalities, the 30-hour rule is still being applied to some people, second interpreters are not funded and awards are made that don’t take into account the market rate for interpreters. All of which means deaf people at risk of losing their jobs, or not getting them in the first place.
“We believe the Minister and the Department want to get this right. So we look forward to working with them to finish their review and begin to make the changes that will help this scheme help deaf people to fulfil their potential.”