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Is the "Work Program" sensitive to deaf/hoh jobseekers?

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Messages: 1 - 21 of 21
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by lemurtail (U13885499) on Wednesday, 8th June 2011

    Today the jobcentre moved me over to the new "Work Program" system and assigned me to one new jobcentre advisor who will be the only one I see from now on.

    Unfortunately I found I am incapable of understanding her properly even with both hearing aids set to maximum and even though she appeared be speaking clearly. It didn't help that they positioned the interview slap in the middle of the noisiest part of the open plan office. She did manage to negotiate a room but I still couldn't make out much of her words, though I got a guist of things.

    It was all very unsettling and I'm dreading having to go through this every fortnight, especially when I was capable of understanding most of the other advisors before. In the right circumstances I'm able to pass as a normal, competent employable person. Today I felt like a total cripple and fear I came across as totally useless. My confidence has taken a huge knock.

    ...YET, I HAVE TO APPLY FOR A JOB REQUIRING ANSWERING TELEPHONES!!!! OK, I can't hear properly, but these people aren't listening!

    Later, from the quiet of my own home, I phoned the disability advisor who knows my case and I was able to ask her what the Work Program was supposed to be about. It seems the computer will place me with one of 2 providers - A4E or Maximus, The Shaw Trust having lost the contract. Nobody yet knows what form this program will take, only that the jobseeker is contracted to a private provider for 2 years or until they either find a job or lose their jsa through a penalty. I'm terrified that this will be the same useless program friends of mine have been on, ie- 20+ noisy people being bored in a room all day, every week, with little or inadequate training so that they resort to talking about last night's TV or playing computer games. Will my inability to answer phones result in me losing my JSA if I keep insisting that I'm unsuitable for high-volume telephone-work? (I actually go completely deaf for several hours if exposed to ringing phones for too long)

    My real fear is that, since losing my hearing in 2002, I can no longer cope physically or mentally in noisy surroundings. I'm worried that forcing me to look for and apply for work in such an accoustically hostile environment will be counterproductive and make me ill again. As it is, in the past few years my residual hearing has declined further so that the loss is now severe/profound on one side and moderate on the other. In spite of this, I have been very active and productive in my jobsearch from my own home as I can actually hear adequately enough to use my home phone for brief periods.

    I'm pinning all my hope on replacement nhs hearing aids which I'm getting this month. Maybe they'll be able to pick up this new advisor's voice as my currently aids don't appear capable amplifying certain lost frequencies to the extent I can hear them. I think her voice is in my lost range.

    I'm hoping that someone on this forum has some experience of this new program and whether it is genuinely helpful to hearing-impaired job seekers. If, for example, it would provide an opportunity to access lip-reading courses.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Report message1

  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by M M (U14200747) on Thursday, 9th June 2011

    Initially refuse to attend any interviews unless you are supported to follow what is going on, I would have thought that an basic. Perhaps you have not made it clear you cannot follow properly even with hearing aids ? it's not an criticism, but many with HA do not realise that while they might follow one person they won't follow everyone and stress affects hearing as well, which an interview is. You do NOT Have to endure interviews unable to follow ! and this suggests top them you can hear better than you can so its catch 22. Demand your access rights they are legally obliged to provide it, perhaps in the past you have bluffed things though and clearly it's not on any more ? If you do not sign ask for text support that is an legal right too. Also ask for support with communication needs, as this is an help they have to provide too if they want to find you work. I think maybe the issue is your hearing is getting worse ? It's a toughie just admit it...

    Report message2

  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by Tim (U14258428) on Thursday, 9th June 2011

    I suggest contacting RNID, copying and pasting your post to an e-mail. Remember, these people have collected tens of millions of pounds with the portfolio of 'making the world a better place for deaf and hoh people.'

    Report message3

  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by M M (U14200747) on Thursday, 9th June 2011

    Yeah but they want proof YOU gave them dosh first... they aint a charity....

    Report message4

  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by lemurtail (U13885499) on Thursday, 9th June 2011

    Thanks for the replies.

    MM, you're right about me having an issue with the further deterioration of my hearing. I'm struggling quite a bit to come to terms with it, actually. My audiologist pointed out to me that I've become too adept at covering myself so that people may well have difficulty believing me when I tell them that I have a severe loss of hearing. She's even given me an audiogram printout to show to the non-believers!

    Even so, I'm very forthright and, I hope to think, calm and reasonable, when encountering officials. (OK last one was a blip because I couldn't hear her and panicked) I always state upfront that I am totally deaf in one ear and severely impaired in the other. I mention that my hearing aids do not compensate for the loss and that I am incapable of hearing much in open-plan situations. I had been assured that it was on my records that a cubicle room would be standard for me, though general signing on would be in the main room. I'd built up a rapport with the usual people, who were positioned in the quieter part of the room so I hadn't had to struggle too much in this new building until that last appointment. It's just sod's law that the woman I have to see from now on just happens to be inaudible from the point of view of my hearing loss. ..Could I ask for someone else, under the access rights thing or would I be seen as non-compliant?

    I had asked if I could be assigned to the Work Program provider better suited to helping deaf/hoh jobseekers back into work but was told such things are allocated by computer and cannot be overridden.

    This level of loss is pretty new territory for me so I'm unsure what support is out there for me to ask for. Would I be allowed to bring a friend with me to my next appointment/s, for example? Or would support have to be another official? I'm finding, to my horror, when in a situation is out of my control because I can't hear, I'm overwhelmed with a mixture of panic, terror, anger and self-pity. Are there any counselling services for this sort of thing, because I'm really worried about encountering such situations again.

    The real trial, however, is going to be the Work Program environment and building itself, wherever it is. No-one seems to know!

    Report message5

  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by IanIlly (U8801543) on Thursday, 9th June 2011

    Well, it is a sad situation but as MM has said you should demand your legal rights. It will be interesting to see how they respond. Already, these private sector 'solution experts' are being taken to court over their riding rough-shod over people's needs.

    Another thing that occurs to me is the response to that situation, I know exactly what you feel. It is hard being a late deafened adult.

    BTW the name Maximus seems seems wrong, surely it must be Gluteus maximus? (LOL fans of the late great Frankie Howard will know what I mean)

    Report message6

  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 6.

    Posted by M M (U14200747) on Thursday, 9th June 2011

    They are providing a service and this is clearly covered under the equality and access laws,it was covered under the old DDA too. They cannot refuse you support if you need it, I'm not sure you can demand someone else instead, but I would assume if they want to be seen as helpful and accommodating they could let someone else interview you you can follow easier. However this lets them off giving you rights and they use it against you next time if e.g. you might still experience issues with the new person, all in all I'd just go straight for support that works and is reliable and your right anyway.

    Primarily because if you face issues at the interview then you will elsewhere too... You make it easy for them you willjust face more issues elsewhere, they just want you in and out with the least bother. I went to the DWP recently for my son, and told them straight away we were NOT going to attend any interview unless support was there, they tried to make out I couldn't refuse, I soon put them right, and if my support wasn't guaranteed nor my son's wasn't, and put in writing I would take legal action.

    They suggested they could write things down for me, and I again refused, that is what you have to do. I'm not enabling THEM to circumvent my access ! They can call me non-cooperative all they like, now they know what WE had to put up with for years. I got full support 2 days later RESULT! We have to start as we mean to go on and given the government and others are out to deny us all rights we have fought for, it's vital we don't cooperate with the system that denies us on any level.

    Report message7

  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by Tim (U14258428) on Saturday, 11th June 2011

    I am very concerned about the work programme for the following reasons.

    Firstly, they are putting more disabled people onto JSA, including deaf people, I suspect, which means that they will enter the same pool as non-disabled people. Equality is about treating people differently to achieve a more equal outcome - that's not going to happen, at least not enough to be comparable to the tailored support on ESA.

    Secondly, the work programme has a 'black box' approach, meaning that the Government will not interfere with how work providers "help" people. This means that work providers can do whatever they like to "help" people into work. Therefore there is a danger that deaf will be vulnerable to unfair treatment.

    Thirdly, I doubt that the work providers will be shy about putting deaf people through a harsh regime at the same time that employers are reluctant/refuse to take deaf people on. We need more Derings and less A4e s, but we're getting the opposite.

    Report message8

  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 8.

    Posted by M M (U14200747) on Saturday, 11th June 2011

    The privatised work support approach has run into issues already, as they are in it to make money, they have decided that large areas in Wales will not be served at all, because... there are NO JOBS they can help them to get, so they instead, concentrate work help in Cardiff where work is more available. So in Merthyr Tydfil where the average is 32 people for every job advertised, and Torfaen with an huge population sick or disabled will get, no help to find work and have their allowances taken away as well. Cameron has totally ignored the fact these work supporters he wants 'bussed in' have declared it is not possible because there is no work to give them, one supermarket in Cwmbran wales advertised for 2 shelf stackers 185 people applied, ex-teachers, uni graduates etc were amongst them. To get a job, you need them to exist surely ? Next I read employers are complaining there are not enough migrants coming in, total madness...

    Report message9

  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by M M (U14200747) on Saturday, 11th June 2011

    The welsh assembly also stated that an survey of work declared that the disabled were an staggering 74% unemployed compared with an national average of 9.... Cameron said nothing at all. The disabled are being punished disproportionately to hearing and able-bodied too as employers declare we don't want them.

    Report message10

  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by tishcat (U14708219) on Sunday, 12th June 2011

    hi lemurtail
    i can really sympathise with you about the workstart thing. Its a bad enough situation to be in anyway, being out of work.
    Hopefully when you get your new aids off the NHS you should feel an improvement, i know i did. Or perhaps you can set up a personal amplifier like the ones you use for tv, certainly for a one to one chat in a private room.
    If the start course involves lectures, you could see about having a loop system fitted in that room. Also, it is worth asking about the lip reading classes and by rights, you'd think you'd have a case for needing them as a work skill.
    If it carries on stressing you then you ought to have a chat with whoevers in charge and see about changing your case worker, at least, for someone who hopefully you can communicate better with.
    Watch your stress levels and all the best

    Report message11

  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 11.

    Posted by lemurtail (U13885499) on Tuesday, 14th June 2011

    Thanks again for your helpful comments.

    Since my last post, one of my friends has negotiated with the job centre on my behalf and is permitted to be my helper at my appointment later today. I'll report back on this.

    I may have been given special permission to use the staff loo as, in stressful situations, I have about 5 minutes to reach a loo. I had some major intestinal problems back in the late 1980s which, I thought I'd grown out of but which periodically resurface. The stress of the last week has made it worse unfortunately.

    The job centre disability advisor has confirmed that the interview will take place in the room with the T-loop. Fingers crossed it works properly.

    On the subject of T-loops, we were robbed again last week (I don't live in a particularly nice area) and I thought by physically going to the Police Station I could report the crime face to face rather than struggling over the phone. The sign on the desk indicated I could request to use the portable T-loop. So I did. The receptionist looked aghast and I gather from his mumblings that I was the 1st person to ever ask to use it. He disappeared into a cupboard and handed me the apparatus and expected me to know how to set it up - I didn't! It had a plug on it so we guessed it ought to plug into the wall. I stood near it and set my hearing aids to program 3. NOT A SAUSAGE!!! and now for the punch line...

    ...having given up on the T-loop, I struggled to hear what he was saying and worked out I had to walk to the corner of the room and report the crime using their internal phone as they don't do face-to-face crime reporting. Fortunately it was a very loud phone, audible even to me. :o)

    The T-loop in the Post Office was working, though I found it quite hard work. Is the sound quality supposed to sound metallicy and break up like a badly-tuned radio? My audiologist checked my Hearing aids last month when I admitted I'd never had any success in using T-loops. It turned out one of the aids hadn't been set up right, so she fixed it. She also warned me that T-loops are generally not switched on unless you ask. It would have been nice to have known that back in 2002 when I lost my hearing...

    Report message12

  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by stueyyy (U8300187) on Tuesday, 14th June 2011

    h.o.h more like smiley - sadface

    Report message13

  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by stueyyy (U8300187) on Tuesday, 14th June 2011

    h.o.h more like smiley - sadface lol that was for Tim about Rnid or action for h.o.h

    Report message14

  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by lemurtail (U13885499) on Tuesday, 14th June 2011

    I'm constantly surprised at how many people fall in the range from hard of hearing right up to fully-deaf. It must be a notable percentage of the population, are there any statistics? Yet it's a very accoustically-hostile world out there: blaring pounding music in public spaces (which you can feel vibrate your bones even if you can't hear it), eating places with no soft furnishings to buffer echoes, unclear travel announcements, open-plan work spaces with no protection from other workers' noise, etc.

    I wish there was a basic common standard applied to public spaces to make the conditions much more practical and far less demanding for everyone, not just those with sensory or physical impairments.

    Report message15

  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 15.

    Posted by lemurtail (U13885499) on Wednesday, 15th June 2011

    It was just as well my friend accompanied me to the appointment as it was thrown into disarray by the non-availabilty of the T-loop room which, they'd assured me, had been booked for me. So, we sat around for half an hour until another room was found and a portable T-loop sourced. Then followed the usual trial and error set-up, with the usual "Is it working?" ritual.

    My appointment should have been for 40 minutes but we ended up on the premises for one and a half hours, worrying towards the end whether we'd come back to a parking fine. I found it strangely reassuring that my friend was able to experience my world, ie- the way in which nothing goes to plan and things spin wildly out of control in spite of the best preparations.

    She, herself, had negotiated with the jobcentre the day before and had permission to be my able-bodied assistant. However, this had not been passed on to the relevant people, with the result that the staff disappeared for a discussion on the permissability of it and we were warned that a security guard might have to sit in on the proceedings. It all got pretty surreal but, eventually, the security guard was deemed unnecessary. We did end up going downstairs, upstairs, downstairs and upstairs again in the search for a room.

    I'm pleased to report that, in spite of the fiasco, the appointment itself went very well. I WAS able to hear the previously inaudible advisor once the T-loop was working. My friend knows me so well, she spotted when I may not have heard things correctly and ensured that I'd comprehended it all.

    The advisor told me I'd been assigned to Maximus ad that I'd receive an info pack through the post which I'd have to fill in before my initial appointment with them in 2 weeks time. Normally a client would be expected to have a telephone interaction with Maximus before then but, given my hearing difficulties, my advisor handled this herself and relayed the information to them on my behalf.

    So, in 2 weeks, I will be meeting with a Maximus advisor and will, apparently, get a personalised program to help me back into work. I have childcare responsibilities and a health-problem, as well as the hearing impairment, and these should all be taken into account. I'm hoping that I can update some of my skills.

    Going through my documentation, I noticed the dates on my swathe of experience and qualifications stop around the time I lost most of my hearing. With hindsight that is entirely down to the fact that I suddenly became unable to hear anything useful in a classroom situation. Clearly this is something which will have to be addressed if the Work Program couses are classroom based. Presumably Disability Access legislation was taken into account when these schemes were set up. I'm rather hoping I don't get told, as I have in the past, "We appreciate you can't participate, so there's no need for you to turn up". Anyway, we shall see...

    My advisor gave me some useful advice:
    State upfront the difficulties I have.
    Ask for "a buddy" in the Program space who can support me when necessary.
    Make a fuss if things are not being done properly and report to her as well.

    I expressed concern that I might unwittingly fall foul of the sanction system (have my benefit cut off) should I not hear an instruction and so fail to comply with it. This is something I'll have to make clear to Maximus.

    The interesting thing is, at this stage of the new Work Program, the candidates are very much guinea pigs in a trial scheme. I shall be sure to make notes on the useability of the scheme from my perspective as a mostly HoH/sometimes completely deaf participant and if it helps them improve, if necessary, then it would be a result.

    Report message16

  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 16.

    Posted by tishcat (U14708219) on Wednesday, 15th June 2011

    hi Lemurtail
    Thanks for taking the time to reply. This is a situation that has me worried, cos despite being on the sick, i will probably have to face an interview of some kind sooner or later.
    I have heard that there are as many as 1 in 7 of the population with significant hearing loss. The majority of these are over 50 however.
    I got a portable tv amplifier off the social and am tempted to take it with me, should i have an interview.
    Like you, i have been "testing" the various loops where i see the sticker and mostly i find they don't work. I have pointed this out where i can but often the person behind the counter is unaware of how they work and have no instructions in how to use them.
    Good luck wityh the job start and hopefully it will prove useful to you. Try to make sure you are up to date with any work benefits you can claim being disabled as well

    Report message17

  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by lemurtail (U13885499) on Wednesday, 15th June 2011

    Thanks Tishcat.

    I'm interested in our comment: "Try to make sure you are up to date with any work benefits you can claim being disabled as well"

    Which organisation would be best to contact concerning this? My experience over the past few years is of being urged by one department to apply for a benefit and then being told by another that the information I'd been given was wrong.

    I never did work out whether I was ought to apply for DLA. The Council provided me with safety equipment, ie: vibrating and flashing smoke alarm and flashing doorbell. (I used to have one of their TV amplifiers but it failed to work one day and I was unable to negotiate a replacement compatible with the ancient TV. These days I just cringe at the subtitles!) As this apparatus helps me live independently and as I seem to have limited my life to situations where I can get by, I'm not sure I qualify.

    Report message18

  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by lemurtail (U13885499) on Wednesday, 15th June 2011

    'your comment' :o)

    There doesn't appear to be an edit function on this board...

    Report message19

  • Message 20

    , in reply to message 19.

    Posted by tishcat (U14708219) on Wednesday, 15th June 2011

    i gave a friend a brochure that i got from HEARING LINK and he successfully applied for DLA. This charity represents mostly deafened people, such as yourself, so you should try contacting them.
    You could also try the newly named ACTION ON HEARING LOSS. In fact, as many as you can really, to keep your options open as well as CAB and Welfare Rights.
    I really don't know anything about work benefits except hearsay about there being a DISABILITY WORKING ALLOWANCE and other incentives to work.
    Wish i could be more helpful

    Report message20

  • Message 21

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by lemurtail (U13885499) on Wednesday, 15th June 2011

    Thanks, that is very helpful! :o)

    Report message21

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