Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated
The Secretary of State has asked Lesley Strathie to reply to your question asking what facilities Jobcentres offer to deaf people who arrive to make enquiries (a) with and (b) without an appointment; and how many front line jobcentre staff have qualifications in British Sign Language. I am replying on behalf of Lesley Strathie as acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Within Jobcentre Plus we recognise the diverse range of customers we serve and we are fully committed to providing equally accessible and available services to all customers.
Customers who are hearing impaired can obtain support from Jobcentre Plus in the following ways:
if a customer is able to use a hearing loop, we provide integrated and portable hearing loop facilities in each Jobcentre; where customers prefer to have a qualified British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter present, the Jobcentre will arrange for an external interpreter to be present at the interview. We currently have four contracted providers that provide BSL interpreters nationally, or staff can use local qualified interpreters, lip speakers, or deaf blind interpreters; or alternatively, customers can choose to bring friends, relatives or intermediaries to act as interpreting agents for them. If a customer provides their own professional qualified interpreter they can be reimbursed with reasonable costs.
We do not hold a central national database of staff who are qualified in BSL and this information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Jobcentre Plus is committed to providing a first-class service and ensuring we fully support all our customers.