Employment: Hearing Impaired

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 12th May 2008.

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Photo of Sandra Gidley Sandra Gidley Shadow Minister, Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what mechanisms are in place to help deaf people into employment.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Employment and Welfare Reform)

We are committed to helping all people, including deaf people, into suitable, sustainable employment through Jobcentre Plus.

Access to Work can provide a range of individually tailored support to enable disabled people to enter or stay in employment. Access to Work can fund specialist support for deaf and hearing impaired people in work. One type of support that deaf people may find particularly helpful is the funding provided through Access to Work for British Sign Language Interpreters, Lip Speakers or Palantypists.

People with health conditions, including deaf people, may also benefit from the help that is available through Pathways to Work. This service provides extra support and opportunities to help people with health problems and disabilities gain employment and retain it. Pathways to Work provides a series of interviews with an adviser and access to programmes to increase skills or confidence, or to help manage a health condition. Financial incentives may also be available to help people move into work.

Disability Employment Advisers in Jobcentre Plus work with people needing more extensive support. They need not be receiving benefits and may be in employment but worried about losing their job due to their disability. Disability employment advisers can advise on appropriate employment opportunities, act as advocates on the customer's behalf, and negotiate with employers, as well as refer people, where appropriate, for an occupational health assessment, or draw on the professional expertise of work psychologists specialising in working with disabled people. Disability employment advisers can also advise on specialised support available for disabled people. This includes Work Preparation, WORKSTEP, New Deal for Disabled People where it is in operation, Residential Training Colleges, Job Introduction Scheme and Access to Work.

Between December last year and March of this year, we undertook a public consultation 'Helping people achieve their full potential: Improving specialist disability employment services'. The consultation sought views about ways in which the Access to Work programme and other programmes for disabled people could be further improved, and ways to enhance aspects of the disability employment adviser role. We will publish our response during the summer.

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