General election 2017: Make PIP available for deaf young people

Sally Etchells, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

Many deaf children and young people receive disability benefits to help out with additional costs such as travel to audiology appointments, paying for communication support (i.e. sign language interpreters) and purchasing specialist equipment or technology.

Since 2013, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has been replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for those over 16.

We know that many deaf young people are legally eligible for PIP but are not being awarded it without appealing to a tribunal.

Why is this?

PIP assessors and decision makers simply do not understand how being deaf affects a young person’s everyday communication.

“We attended (the assessment) and were taken to a very small quiet room. My son lip read her throughout. She said “can you hear and understand me?” and he said “yes”. But I told him to explain why he could i.e. it was a very quiet room, no background noise, he was close to her to lip read”. (Parent of a deaf young person)

This is evidence that many assessors are only basing their decision on the young person’s ability to communicate one-to-one, in a quiet room. They are not asking about the reality of communication outside of the assessment room – in large groups, loud places and with people who are not deaf aware.

Assessors are also not considering the barriers faced by deaf young people when lip-reading, the lack of deaf awareness among the general public, and the limitations of hearing aids and cochlear implants.

What now?

We are calling on all of the political parties to commit to ensuring that PIP is fully accessible to all deaf young people. Please contact your local parliamentary candidates and ask them to pledge to improve the PIP process if they are elected in June!

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