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Sign Language

Volume 401: debated on Thursday 20 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department will make it its policy to ensure that its contract with SchlumbergerSema requires that only registered qualified sign language interpreters are used at medical examinations when making an assessment of sign language users. [103105]

SchlumbergerSema Medical Services' current procedures adhere to the principle that the provision of interpreters is a customer led one.Therefore customers are given the option of either requesting a sign language interpreter or arranging for a friend or family member to interpret or sign for them.In the event that a customer elects for Medical Services to provide a Sign Language Interpreter, Medical Services' policy is to arrange for provision of a Qualified Signer to be obtained through the RNID helpline.The Department has no current plans to review this requirement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what contractual (a) obligations and (b) targets his Department has placed on SchlumbergerSema medical services for providing sign language interpreters for medical examinations; and if he will make a statement. [102901]

[holding answer 14 March 2003]: The contract between the Department and SchlumbergerSema Medical Services defines deafness as a "Special Need" and specifies the following:

SchlumbergerSema Medical Services shall comply with any reasonable request to accommodate claimants who have special needs
When a special need is identified on the day of the examination appointment and the special need cannot be reasonably accommodated, SchlumbergerSema Medical Services shall use reasonable endeavours to ensure that an alternative appointment is arranged within 24 hours of the special need being identified and shall ensure that the claimant's special needs will be accommodated at the new appointment.
The target that the Department has set for SchlumbergerSema Medical Services in relation to special needs is that 95 per cent. of claimant's requirements will be met.