Mike Penning MP, the new Minister for Disabled People, has said that he will consider the current level of support for deaf people – although details of the areas he will consider have yet to be released.
Mr Penning was responding to a written question put by Cambridge’s Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert about communication and language support for deaf people accessing government services.
He said: “There is a wide range of support for deaf people available across Government. In my new role as Minister of State for Disabled People I will be considering the current position and what more might be done. More information on this support can be found at www.dwp.gov.uk.”
There will be high hopes that the Minister’s review can bring positive changes for deaf people. The DWP came in for fierce criticism from deaf groups earlier this year for initially only allowing deaf people to apply for Personal Independence Payments by phone, only later introducing a trial allowing deaf people to apply by email.
Deaf people have also been concerned by examples of children acting as interpreters in schools and patients in hospitals left for 12 days without any communication support before going into surgery or clueless about the treatment they will be receiving.
Readers will remember that the EDM (early day motion) raised by Sir Malcolm Bruce (timed to mark the 10th Anniversary of BSL recognition earlier this year) specifically asked for a review of provision of government services for BSL users. If Mr Penning is planning on undertaking a review, it is likely that it will incorporate BSL along with other types of communication and language support for deaf people.
At the time, a large campaign was waged within the deaf community to persuade MPs to sign the EDM. If Mr Penning is to hold a review, that will count as a campaign victory based on the wording of the EDM, but campaigners will be awaiting the remit of the review and the changes that might follow, before getting too excited.
By Andy Palmer, Deputy Editor
Via Andrew Arthur
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