Well, it’s official. The Government thinks that deafness is just a ‘minor’ disability. A piffling little thing of no consequence or cost.
Last week, the Government confirmed the arrangements for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit which is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for disabled people over 16 (DLA is safe for children – for now). In doing so, they confirmed that deaf people will be among those hardest hit. Here’s a National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) story on it.
The older lower rate for DLA is out which will hit a lot of deaf people.
And the criteria has been worded in such a word that basically you have to be a sign language user reliant on interpreters all the time to get even basic standard rate of PIP. Some estimates suggest around 90% of deaf people don’t use sign language as their main form of communication in the home.
To add insult to injury, the entire claim process is predicated on the basis that all disabled people can use the phone to request a form. Forget about such quaint things like webforms or email.
From next April over 600,000 disabled people will start to see their DLA cut or removed. That’s over half a million. And yet the announcements got hardly any coverage.
MPs and Lords will have to approve the changes at some point early in the new year. If you’re angry about the fact the Government doesn’t seem to understand deafness or think that it carries any significant extra costs, then get in touch with your MP and ask him or her to oppose the changes. If you get DLA now, explain to your MP what you use it for and what life would be like if you didn’t get it.
And don’t forget, if the Government thinks they can get away with this, deaf children and their families will be next.