Deafblindness Definition (Social Security Scotland)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 14 March 2024.

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Photo of Roz McCall Roz McCall Conservative

3. To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has undertaken regarding the incorporation of the definition of deafblindness into the work of Social Security Scotland. (S6O-03200)

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Social Security Scotland works with individuals and disability organisations to design services, and every stage of the application process has been tested. The initial equality impact assessment for communication support for deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing Social Security Scotland clients was completed in May 2022. People can apply in ways that suit them best, either by phone, online or paper application form, and local delivery advisers offer in-person support in every local authority area.

We are committed to continually improving our delivery of benefits, and the people of Scotland can be assured that that will be based on dignity, fairness and respect.

Photo of Roz McCall Roz McCall Conservative

The cross-party group on deafness, of which I am deputy convener, has worked tirelessly towards the adoption in Scotland of a definition of deafblindness. That definition is the Nordic model—it has been accepted in the United Kingdom since 1985, and it is the recognised definition across the European Union, with which the Scottish Government has frequently stated that it wishes to align.

My question is simple: will the Scottish Government reassess its position not to recognise the definition of deafblindness, so that people across Scotland are clear on what they may or may not be eligible for?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

I appreciate that there is an on-going campaign on the formal definition of deafblindness, and recently there has been a members’ business debate on the matter. I am happy to hear from Roz McCall in greater detail on the issue, as, I am sure, are colleagues in Social Security Scotland. While the campaign may be on-going, it is important that we continue the dialogue and our discussions to ensure that we support every client who comes to Social Security Scotland.

As I said, I am happy to carry on that dialogue, as I am sure the agency is, too.