Sunday, 22 January 2017

DWP refuse deaf e-mail access....

DWP Wheelchair Cliff
Eidence that DWP bars email communication from disabled claimants


Fresh evidence has emerged that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has refused to allow benefit claimants to communicate via email, despite its claims that it allows disabled people with “valid reasons” to do so.  Last week, one disabled PIP claimant, Mark Lucas, told how he was taking legal action against DWP for refusing to allow him to communicate with its civil servants via email as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act.

DWP insisted in its response that “claimants are entitled to request to receive all communications from the department by email on the grounds of disability under the Equality Act 2010”.  But after Lucas’s story was published, other disabled people have come forward to cast doubt on that response, and have described how DWP has refused to let them deal with their benefit claims by email.


This is unsurprising to ATR.  Deaf people who really need direct contact with the DWP who also use extensive text approaches, and whom advice charities like the CAB are UNABLE to assist due to high cost of support, are always refused direct contact.  

Having gone to the CAB first, all they could manage was writing things down, hopes were dashed when the CAB telephoned the DWP on the deaf client behalf only for the CAB to be told, the DWP would not accept a call on the client behalf, deaf would have to call in  person, the fact they cannot hear made no difference.

DWP insisted deaf use a dedciated text line or BSL video, but the text line was never answered or was not au fait with what text systems deaf now use to communicate, (E.G. Minicoms which deaf stopped using years ago, in favour of iPhones etc).   Landlines were obsolete for the deaf.

The BSL line was no use to many because they don't rely on sign language, and as stated in a previous blog had no usage of note by BSL claimants. You would not get advice from the DWP on how to make welfare claims, they simply process the claims.  Deaf are forced to revert to primitive 'snail mail', where due to time restrictions on claims, you rarely if ever, got a response until that time limit ran out, double jeopardy.  It still would not help deaf people with literacy issues who could not clearly write what their issue was to a dept that honed in on any spelling error or unclear statement.

It is highly discriminatory of a state welfare system to block avenues of making a claim... by preventing perhaps the sole means of making that claim.  Be it by an accredited agency, or dedicated support area.  The DWP appears to be able to ignore a rights and equality act with impunity, simply because it is an 'arm' of the state, even their subcontractor has a right to ignore yours.

Contact Scotland: BSL

CI, but still deaf...



I had hearing for the first 11 years of my life, does THAT change my identity since I went deaf after ? Deafness does not define you,  at what point you had it does.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Putting the Cart before the Horse

Image result for cart before horseThe success of Scottish deaf in going for a Bill Of BSL rights, is viewed generally as more cultural hype, than substance. 

While it is true A BSL Bill has been enacted in Scotland via their devolved government, there are concerns it isn't viable.

Anecdotal evidence suggests not enough demand for BSL support is coming from deaf people on the street, and all the lobbies for access are not based on demand, or availability.

E.G. far too many deaf signers are still mostly relying on family and friends, and with the advent of more text/mobile access, this contributes to a lower demand for sign support.   4 years ago, ATR launched a campaign to BAN all unqualified sign support being used for deaf bsl users, to include, a non-acceptance of family or friend help in medical situations (GP/Clinics/hospitals).   The approach was primarily via the NHS legal Dept with threats to sue the NHS for failing to provide qualified support for deaf and HoH patients, the NHS Insurance area was also approached with the same view, i.e. to apply pressure.

Using unqualified help regardless IF deaf chose that, would not exempt the NHS or any other area, from still being sued if an issue presented itself. They could not use the argument they had simply complied with a patient choice, the duty of care was on the NHS.

The ATR approach was not to oppose deaf having family support, but to prevent the systems using families as a free source of access so they could avoid their legal obligations undermine demand, and save costs at the same time.  ATR being aware deaf were alarmed at the thought they could not then take family support with them, complained bitterly,  but the demands made to the system, did not prevent deaf taking family with them as personal support, but, it did, campaign that family support should not act as bona fide interpreters without qualifications, as they violated the Hippocratic oath, and patient confidentiality.   

Deaf seemed unaware these facts were obvious. There were obvious dangers to deaf people of hearing family, even young hearing children of deaf parents, determining clinical approaches. Other relatives, could disempower deaf people's choice as well.

The BDA opposed ATR's campaign, after initially supporting the idea, had they not opposed, then no medical interview or clinical/hospital, or other appointment could have been carried through without a qualified terp being there, thus demand would quadruple (and prevent medical areas insisting you bring a hearing relative instead).   While deaf still use alternatives, terp demand will remain static.   The BDA stated delays in getting trained support could be dangerous to a deaf patients health, it was a 'catch 22' situation.  ATR disagreed, unless the situation was an emergency one, there was no reason for deaf to circumvent their own demand, it was pure habit or convenience, and quite misplaced.

Training of bsl interpreters has plummeted despite apparent demands for more on the political scene and rights areas, this will defeat any bill of bsl rights, there would be no way to empower it. ATR never understood why scotland went for a bsl bill without first ensuring it was actually viable on a practical basis, we knew the moral and equality rights stance, but that was culturally driven.   

A BSL Bill is a cart before horse approach. it's like demanding everyone has a car, and not ensuring there is fuel to run them, or even  a garage to visit if it breaks down..