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Signature Call for HMRC's Tax Advice Service to be Accessible for Deaf People

Added 23 May 2013

Signature urge Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to make their new specialist telephone service accessible for deaf people.

HMRC are introducing a telephone service for groups, such as deaf people, who need extra help with their tax queries. This will replace their contact centres which previously offered face to face support. We recently told you about their consultation exercise on the service which we have submitted a formal response to.

Signature believe the consultation provides an opportunity to improve the communication experiences of deaf people when accessing HMRC's services.

We are keen to work with them to ensure that the new system is sufficiently tailored to deaf people's needs and that it will include Video Relay Service (VRS) and text relay.

Our response to the consultation makes the following recommendations:

  • HMRC staff must receive deaf awareness training to cater for deaf people's communication needs on the telephone.
  • A pilot exercise should be conducted to assess how the text relay system will cope with the influx of calls after the contact centres are closed.
  • Interpreters provided by HMRC must be NRCPD registered
  • HMRC should release a detailed criterion specifying how people will be assessed as having a hearing difficulty and what the referral process is for face to face meetings.

HMRC should provide Video Relay Services for Deaf customers adopting the model used by Lloyds Banking Group.

Commenting on the consultation Signature's Chief Executive, Jim Edwards, said "It is good to see that HMRC recognise the difficulties deaf people face and their need for additional support.

We feel that VRS deaf awareness training should be used to enhance their existing suite of services for deaf people. We are keen to collaborate with HMRC to ensure the new service is tailored to the communication needs of deaf people."

For more information please contact Andrew Hair Signature's Policy Advisor on andrew.hair@signature.org.uk or 0191 383 7902