Social Security Benefits: Hearing Impairment

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 26th November 2020.

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Photo of Mick Whitley Mick Whitley Labour, Birkenhead

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential barriers that deaf and hard of hearing people experience when attempting to access benefits during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

During the COVID-19 outbreak the Department identified the need to extend the Video Relay Service (VRS) across all benefits making it easier for deaf and hard of hearing customers to access services.

VRS uses a third party British Sign Language interpreter (BSL) to facilitate a conversation between DWP and a deaf customer and was already available to those accessing disability benefits. In April the Department began a phased roll out of this service commencing with Universal Credit and completed roll-out to all benefit lines in October 2020.

Where changes to benefits were implemented as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department communicated those changes through a variety of different channels, including the production of 20 BSL videos for deaf and hard of hearing customers via the Department’s You Tube channel.

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