Work and Pensions CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the UK Council on Deafness

About UK Council on Deafness (UKCOD)

UKCOD is the UK’s leading membership body for organisations concerned with Deafness. We provide access to specialist information, conferences and collaborative working opportunities, whilst providing a collective membership voice to political and cross sector partners.

Introduction

Deaf people are four times more likely to be unemployed than the general population. Jobcentre Plus offers vital services that deaf people rely on. UKCOD feel that the accessibility of these services for deaf people could be improved in a number of ways.

We use the term “deaf” to mean all deaf people, including those who use British Sign Language (BSL), those who lipread and may wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, and those who are deafblind.

Recommendations

Our main recommendations are as follows:

Jobcentre Plus centres should work with local deaf centres to setup job clubs for deaf people. There are already successful examples of Job Clubs for deaf people such as the Hearing Resource Centre in Eastbourne. These should be emulated and expanded on a wider scale.

There should be greater collaboration between the Jobcentre Plus local deaf clubs and businesses. This would create a clear support pathway to get deaf people off benefits and into work.

Jobcentre Plus centres should provide a Video Relay Service for their deaf service users. This will give deaf people the opportunity to access vacancies at short notice, which they often miss due to delays in receiving the information. It is important that deaf people have the same opportunity to access job information as other applicants.

Visual displays are needed in Jobcentre Plus centres so that deaf people are aware that there name has been called.

Frontline Jobcentre Plus staff should have deaf awareness training. It is important staff have the right training and skills to cater for deaf people’s different communication needs.

Sign Language Interpreters, lipspeakers, notetakers or speech-to-text reporters should be provided for deaf people as requested when they sign on and not merely for interviews with a Disability Employment Advisor.

All interpreters, lipspeakers, notetakers or speech to text reporters provided by the Jobcentre Plus should be NRCPD registered. The have been a number of cases where interpreters have been provided who only possess a level two qualification in British Sign Language, and where staff have been attempting to communicate where it is not appropriate.

Job adverts should also be available in a BSL format. This will ensure they are fully accessible for those deaf people who use BSL.

Job adverts should not insist on applicants telephoning them to apply. Nor should deaf people be made to have interviews by telephone. This unintentionally discriminates against deaf people and means that the application process is not fully accessible to them.

Jobcentre staff should be aware of some vacancies where there may be limitations on a deaf person’s ability to do a job.

6 August 2013

Prepared 27th January 2014