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Communication Support Professionals

Volume 447: debated on Friday 16 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what level of proficiency is expected of a sign language interpreter booked through the Access to Work scheme; and what steps his Department takes to ensure that this standard is met; (74545)

(2) what guidelines are issued to Access to Work staff on the provision of communication support professionals for deaf and hard of hearing people; and what steps are taken to monitor their implementation.

Each Access to Work application for help with interpreting support is dealt with on an individual basis. Guidance is issued to Access to Work advisers which asks them to take into account the customer’s job role, their disability and any other help that might meet their needs at work. An expert assessment is commissioned, should there be any doubts as to what support might be necessary.

Access to Work policy guidance states that where British sign language interpretation is required, that a registered trainee interpreter (who has passed their stage 3) should be provided as a minimum.

All Access to Work business centre managers are routinely asked to ensure that the policy guidance is being adhered to within their teams.

In addition to this, Access to Work policy managers have been working in partnership with the Chief Officers’ Group (a network of senior representatives of deaf organisations) to develop guidance on the likely level of qualification an interpreter might need in order to support someone to carry out various work-related tasks. This guidance is in draft format at the moment, but will be finalised and distributed to all business centres during June.