Access to work and BSL Users

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2006 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2006

Access to work is the right of every British Sign Language User, it is a functional employment right. It is an essential part of our employment opportunities to have Sign Language Interpreters to enable effective communication with other employers and provide equal access of communication within the workplace, both externally and internally.

Without communication support being provide BSL Users face barriers of access to employment. Access to work have decided to reduce the fees and travel costs of sign language interpreters and try to encourage BSL Users to negotiate the reduced fees and travel costs. Clearly this cannot be negotiable as BSL users who are in employment would then receive a lower standard and level of communication because of the restricted fees and the knock on effect of this would result in inequality of communication and employment opportunities.

In particular, we are concerned that some BSL Users have already or will be forced out of their jobs because of not being able to cover the difference between the new reduced rates of travel costs.

In order to challenge these barriers we call upon the National Disabled Members’ Committee to:

1)Discuss with The Dept of Work and Pensions to set up a consultation and review the circumstances, reverse the decision and give BSL Users the opportunity to follow best practice to ensure their access needs are met rather than making saving money a priority

2)Recognise and identify barriers to employability especially in relation to the experience of BSL Users who face discriminate of access because of the communication barrier.

3)Lobby the Government to review Access to Work’s policy on the provision of efficient communication support for BSL User’s regarding employment opportunities.