Darren Townsend-Handscomb: What’s happened to the Access to Work submissions, and advice on giving evidence in BSL

Posted on July 4, 2014

In this article, I’ve written more information about what’s happened to people’s submissions, and I’ve written some important things to think about if you are still planning to send in evidence in English (18th July) or BSL (1st August).

The Select Committee has received around 300 submissions.  We should feel really proud of this.  It’s rare for this Select Committee to get so many submissions from the public.

The fact that so many of us have sent our experiences is really good, as the Select Committee will understand that these problems are happening a lot, and how they affect people, and so are likely to take that into account in discussions, and when making recommendations.

Evidence already sent (before 20th June):

Every submission has been read by Select Committee staff.

As you can see on the Select Committee website, most of these submissions have been accepted as evidence.

The rest have been accepted as background material.  All of these will be put into a single document, and will be circulated to all members of the committee for them to read.  But they won’t be published.

There are two main reasons that submissions may have been taken as background material and not evidence:

1)    They included the names and/or email addresses of AtW / DWP staff.  It isn’t felt to be appropriate to publish these in evidence.

2)    Some evidence is very similar to other evidence.  This is not surprising, because many of us have had similar experiences.  It doesn’t help the Select Committee to have several pieces of evidence that are very, very similar.

Suggestions if you are sending in evidence:

1)     If you look at the evidence published, the impact of the ’30 hour rule’ on Deaf BSL users is really clear.

It may not be useful to send more evidence about this, unless you think you have something different to say about what happened, or how it affected you or your organisation.

2)   It may be more useful to send evidence about the other issues with AtW that people have talked about: problems with the assessment and review processes, making up rules, inconsistent decisions, not understanding about Deaf people or communication preferences, retrospective decisions, and so on.

3)   Don’t put names or email addresses of AtW / DWP staff in your submission.

  • You can mention the Minister for Disabled People, as he is a public person.
  • It is better not to include correspondence (emails / letters) with AtW/DWP, but to describe the salient points in your submission if necessary.  If you want to include emails, remove all names, email addresses, and contact details.
  • You can use initials (e.g. AM) if you need to show what different people say, etc.
  • If you are sending evidence in BSL, because we often initialise names, but mean the full name, you will have to be clear that you do not mean the person’s full name.

By Darren Townsend-Handscomb RSLI (DeafATW)

Darren is an interpreter, trainer and coach, who set up DeafATW.com because Deaf people were being mislead by AtW.  AtW currently keeps him awake at night.  He’d quite like them to go back to supporting Deaf and disabled people to access work, properly.

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