Monthly Archives: March 2014

Coming soon to a screen near you….

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In the next couple of days, we will be launching an exciting set of campaign films. The films will be sent to MPs and organisations, but we would also like to ask you to share these too.

In the first of the series we hear from our Campaign Spokesperson, Jenny Sealey, who explains the importance of Access to Work. Next are a range of other videos by Deaf people explaining why Access to Work is so important to them.

We really hope that these videos will raise awareness and help non disabled, non BSL/signing hearing people understand the issue.

Why not send us a video!

If you are an AtW user and would like to create a video for the campaign to use, please record yourself on an iPad or iPhone, or in a format compatible with YouTube and send the video to: emilysmith2007@mail.com.

Enjoy watching!

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Disability Now Article

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We hope Disability Now’s article will help to raise the profile of the issues that deaf people are facing with their Access to Work support, that is currently failing to provide access.

Our concerns over Cochlear Implants in the news

Cochlear implants (CIs) undoubtedly help many people but there is a huge misunderstanding around them. It is clearly an exciting and overwhelming time for Jo and we wish to make it clear that we are not criticizing anyone who wishes to use CIs. Far from it. Our concern over this story is that CI users will be viewed as “hearing” and any support they receive will be removed.

One of our group is a CI user. She still use interpreters. We asked her to talk about her experience to help explain the issue and our concerns. She said:

When my processor was first switched on it was a series of ‘beeps’ and took 6 months before it started to sound more ‘natural’. A similar comparison would be when you get a new hearing aid and have to get used to the sound change. Although I have now had my implant for 4 years I am still learning new things everyday, so it does take quite a bit of time. Of course it is not a perfect solution to becoming ‘hearing’!

Why do I still need Interpreters? There are several reasons! I still can’t recognise full sentences behind me or when I am looking down, people still need to tap me for attention, and I struggle with accents, both by lip-reading or listening. I cannot use a voice telephone or mobile as I do not recognise enough words or sounds to carry out a conversation, I probably never will. I can process information much faster using an interpreter than trying to lip-read and listen, and also I am less likely to make mistakes or misunderstand spoken information. I am still profoundly deaf when I take the processor off, and sometimes loud sounds are unbearable or I get headaches so have to take it off.

 

Help us to stop changes to access to work support!

Governments Disability Confident Roadshow

We were very interested to see this coverage of the governments Disability Confident Roadshow on ITN this week.  What was particularly interesting was the lack of publicity surrounding this. The cynics amongst us, might think that the government didn’t want disabled people using the opportunity to lobby.

The governments rhetoric (message) does not match their actions.  In the news item, the government continually says that their aim is to support as many disabled people as possible, and that they are trying to achieve fairness (!!).

ITN interviewed Tracey Lazard from Inclusion London (who are one of our supporters), who was able to give the bigger picture for disabled people.  She described the situation as “bleak”.

Also interviewed was Deaf businessman Jeff McWhinney. It was shocking to hear him explain that he was now in a position where he was unable to manage his own company! He has employed a hearing manager.  We believe this is due to the fact that he is unable to access critical meetings and events, thereby having a detrimental affect on his company.

Finally, Liz Sayce was interviewed.  We strongly disagree with her views, as we believe that these are giving the government an excuse for their current actions. She stated that employers need to accept more responsibility. During the Roadshow, Andy Green from DPAC (Disabled People Against the Cuts), spoke out.  He raised the point that even with Access to Work support for the past fifteen years, employers have not changed their practices.  Making employers liable to fund disabled peoples support, whilst barriers in the employment market still remain, is unrealistic and unworkable.

Unfortunately, during the roadshow, the 38 Degrees website went down temporarily. It was only down for a short time and is now back up and running…

Please sign and Share!: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-changes-to-access-to-work

Teresa Pearce MP supports the Stop Changes to Access to Work campaign

We are very pleased to have the support of Teresa Pearce MP. Teresa tabled the recent parliamentary questions on Access to Work, and has been working tirelessly to get the issue debated in parliament.

We approached Teresa as she had already been supporting a member of her constituency about AtW.

As a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Teresa is well placed to raise concerns over the current guidance and changes to practice and is able to ensure that our views are heard.

Teresa fully understands the importance of Access to Work and the devastating affect the reduction of this scheme are having on the people it previously fully supported.

The aim of our campaign is to stop the unnecessary changes to AtW that are having such a detrimental affect on Deaf, DeafBlind and deafened peoples’ ability to work, their employability, and health. We continue to ask AtW, the DWP and this government to really talk with Deaf AtW users in order to keep the progress in Deaf peoples’ employment that AtW has helped achieve over the last 20 years.

We continue to work with other groups wherever possible.

Thank you for your continued support.

A huge thank you to all our supporters: 5000 Signatures!

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A huge thank you to all our supporters for helping us to reach 5,000!

The petition isn’t closing yet, as we feel there is more work to be done before we are ready to present our petition to Iain Duncan Smith & Sir Malcolm Bruce. Please keep signing and sharing!

DWP using “reconsideration” to drive down appeals.

We were very interested to read this post on the ilegal website this morning:

http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/8472/number-direct-appeals-drops-process?post-21318=undefined

Access to Work users will be familiar with the “reconsideration” process. We are aware of countless cases of Deaf people asking for reconsideration, yet nothing gets changed and it often feels that little reconsideration has been given. What is the point of it then?

The reconsideration process is there to drive down the number of appeals that the DWP are having to deal with.

This is why it is essential that we all use the process and don’t give up half way through, as that’s what the DWP are hoping for! Please don’t accept support that is inadequate and doesn’t meet your need. You can use the http://www.deafatw.com resource to help you challenge the support package you are being offered.

If you are going to the BDA deaf lobby day, you may want to raise the issue of reconsideration with your MP.

The Stop Changes to Access to Work campaign is working hard to get Access to Work issues raised. Tell us your experiences of AtW. You can either post on our Facebook page, tweet us, or email us. Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!

Announcing our spokesperson and face of the Campaign.

We are delighted to announce that Jenny Sealey has agreed to become the spokesperson and face of the Stop Changes to Access to Work campaign.

Jenny is the Artistic Director of the Graeae Theatre and co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Having such a high profile job, and with the government still making reference to the Paralympic legacy, you might expect that she would have escaped the 30 hour guidance. This is not the case. Jenny, like every other Access to Work user, is having to fight for the support she needs to do her job.

You can expect to see and hear a lot more from Jenny and our campaign very soon!

Video transcript:

I just want to talk about Access to Work without that provision, I couldn’t do my job, it’s fundamental to being Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre. Access to Work is amazing, it’s so brilliant to have that, when we were doing the Paralympics, I had a team of 14 or 15 fully highly qualified interpreters working amongst, I think there were 10 deaf people, plus me, and I had my own core team of three. Without that skill, that knowledge and everything, we would never, ever have been able to do such a glorious Paralympics and for all those deaf people to have full and equal access.

What I need in my job is so varied, I go from rehearsals, to budget meetings, to board meetings, to networking, working in schools, it’s so varied so I’m very, very aware, I carefully pick which interpreters I need for which jobs and to be forced to have one interpreter, just in the office… That’s giving me just one voice, one interpretation, all the way through my working life… That’s not going to work for someone like me, and there’s many, many other deaf people that I know, that same style will not work for them either. My interpreters need to be cast, I suppose, in the same way that I cast my plays… So I have the right person for my budget meetings, you know, an interpreter that knows and understands finance… I have the right interpreter when I’m working in schools that understands the school environment… I want, I need, and have to be allowed choice, and that is the same for other deaf people. Also, we need to have fully qualified high spec interpreters, not, you know, a baby CSW… Because… That’s wrong, and that means we’re not getting full and equal access, so… please, please, we have to have choice, skill, and qualified interpreters… We need that.

#disabilityincompetent on Twitter.

The DWP are sending out masses of tweets claiming to give examples of outstanding disability confidence. They use the hashtag #disabilityconfidence. Our experiences recently show us that far from being disability confident, the DWP are disability incompetent. They are making it impossible for deaf people to gain, maintain and succeed in employment.

“Job redesign” is the latest offering. Supposedly providing maximum independence. Not being enabled to do the job of your choice doesn’t sound much like independence to us.

We are going to start using the hashtag #disabilityincompetent to highlight the issues. If you have examples of disability incompetency please tweet using the hashtag. You can include us in the tweet, so we can see it @emilysmith2007 and also use our hashtag #stopchanges2atw.

….Please remember to include @DWPgovuk too!

We need your help!

Dear Supporters

Do you live in Bermondsey? Is your local MP Simon Hughes? If so, we need your help!

There is a new Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Disability that is to be chaired by Mike Penning MP:

http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2014/february/new-inter-dept-ministerial-group-disability

We need to target certain MPs to get Deaf peoples’ AtW issues raised at this meeting.

If you live in Bermondsey, or know a Deaf person that does, we need you go to and meet your MP, Simon Hughes so that he can represent Deaf people in this new group. The group is meeting very soon (13th March), so you don’t have much time! When you contact his office let him know that if possible you would like to talk to him before the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Disability on 13th march.

We are asking everyone to contact their local MP. We have template letters on our website: https://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/template-mp-letter/

But what would be even better is for you to go and meet your MP face to face!

Your MP will book an interpreter for you to do this – remember to remind them to do this.

If you live in another area remember you can contact your MPs local office any time and arrange to go to one of their surgeries. If you don’t know who they are, just enter your postcode in this website and it will tell you who your MP is: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk

On 17th March the BDA have organised a Deaf Lobby Day to make it easier to talk to your MP, as they will provide interpreters. However it may be short notice for your MP to arrange to be there. You need to book at: http://www.bda.org.uk/Events/125.

DeafLondon (http://www.deaflondon.org) are also organising a lobbying skills session for the morning of 17th March. You can reserve a place here: http://www.deaflondon.org/about-us/register/

We will be updating you with more information very soon. In the meantime we are busily working away in the background to Stop Changes To Access To Work!

Thank you!