Applying for Access to Work, money available to those who are deaf or disabled to support them in the work place, will be easier following pressure from the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).
The charity has been working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to try ensure the Access to Work scheme is made more accessible to deaf young people.
NDCS asked DWP to clarify guidance that saw employers being asked to contribute towards the cost of communication support for deaf people in job interviews, instead of the Government helping to prevent deaf people being unfairly disadvantaged.
NDCS was concerned the rules would lead to employers being discouraged from recruiting a deaf person, who may need a speech to text reporter or British Sign Language interpreter to access an interview or meeting.
Dean, who is Deaf, was left stressed and upset after contacting DWP ahead of an interview in November:
“Interviewers usually don’t judge people before they meet them, but with Access to Work phoning to ask a direct question on interpreters means the interviewer will have already judged me. I can imagine them thinking ‘If he has done that, imagine if we employ him…do we have to pay extra for him being Deaf’.
“Access to Work has made the thought of looking for another job stressful. I feel like they are trying to tell me not to work anymore and live on social benefits because it would be cheaper and less hassle for them.”
Following the intervention of the National Deaf Children’s Society, the Department for Work and Pensions has updated guidelines and retrained staff to make it clear that employers must not be asked to pay for interpreters.
Stuart Edwards, Disability Employment Strategy Policy Adviser for DWP, said:
“Contributions from employers are not to be sought for communication support at interview. We want to make [getting an interpreter for an interview] as quick and seamless as possible and not add any element of extra risk to a Deaf or disabled person’s recruitment.
“The guidance will therefore be updated and staff trained accordingly as soon as possible.”
Martin McLean, Policy Advisor at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:
“Government figures show that less than half of deaf adults are employed compared to 77% of adults with no disability. This has to change.
“We know that deaf employees can achieve just as much as hearing people, but the right support must be in place so I am really pleased that DWP has taken on board our feedback and done the right thing.”
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