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Campaigning and influencing during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis

It’s our goal to make sure the government understands, and responds to, the needs of people who are deaf or have hearing loss during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.

Since the beginning of lockdown in the UK, almost every aspect of society has been affected. Our daily lives have changed beyond recognition.

We’ve seen dramatic changes to public services in response to the pandemic. New services are quickly being designed, and huge changes have been introduced to how settings such as hospitals, shops and workplaces operate.

The government must consider the access needs of the 12 million people who are deaf or have hearing loss when they create new guidance, information and services.

What we’ve been calling for

Our Policy and Campaigns Team has been lobbying the government to make sure:

  • accessibility is considered in its response to coronavirus, and
  • new or altered public services meet the needs of people who are deaf or have hearing loss.

We’ve also worked closely with coalitions of other disability charities to raise the specific concerns of people who are deaf or have hearing loss with government, MPs and the press.

The issues we have prioritised are set out in our coronavirus position statement.

We’re continuing to work closely with our communities to understand what issues are affecting you most and to decide where our focus should be. Find out how to take part in our social research.

Our progress so far

Thanks to insight and support from our communities, we have already seen excellent progress and positive changes to policy from the UK government. We think these policy changes will improve the way people who are deaf or have hearing loss take an active part in society and get support from public services.

Accessible information

Accessibility at work

  • The Department for Work and Pensions has made changes to the Access to Work scheme:
    • you can get your support changed if your working routine has changed due to coronavirus
    • you can now make claims for equipment or support workers services when working from home
    • more people are eligible for travel to work elements to reflect the risks around travelling.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • In response to us calling on the government to assess the safety and viability of transparent face masks, a type 2R transparent mask has been approved for use in the UK in health and social care settings. Read about the type 2R transparent mask.
  • Following concerns we raised about the availability of clear face masks, an initial 250,000 were distributed to frontline NHS and social care workers in September. Read about the government’s plan to deliver the type 2R transparent mask.
  • Appropriate guidance has been issued to clinicians using PPE, highlighting communication barriers presented by masks and how to overcome them.

Face coverings

Raising awareness

Retail

  • We launched our Access for All in Retail campaign. We are sending our open letter to major retailers across the UK, calling on them to take simple steps to make their stores accessible for our community. Over 1,700 of you have signed the letter so far.

What we’ll do next

We know that the changes we’ve secured so far aren’t enough, and that the impact of the coronavirus crisis will be with us for some time. We will continue to work on the issues our community faces, collaborating with the government over its response where we can, but also calling out their failures where necessary.

Read more in our coronavirus position statement.

We also want to progress our existing campaigns that are not related to coronavirus. Learn about our ongoing campaigns and sign up to our Campaigns Network.