Many blind and partially sighted people correspond with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Following on from sustained pressure from RNIB and members of the public, in March 2015 the Government published a report entitled 'DWP Review of Alternative Formats'.
This review was a major step forward. It's primary recommendation is for DWP set up a team to pilot a system providing accessible formats to everyone who receives a benefit. This process would mirror what HMRC have done for many years. The report recommended that this pilot team should be in place by the end 2015. In the long term, all DWP communications, including information about Access to Work and Pensions, would be required to be accessible.
Over the last few months we've investigated what progress the DWP has made since the report was published. Unfortunately progress is slow, with the recommended pilot not taking place this year. DWP have told us that the earliest a pilot could start is now May 2016, however there is no guarantee it will even have begun by this point as it will take the DWP time to change their processes.
We are extremely disappointed by this timeline. It suggests accessible information may not become a reliable and routine part of DWP's general provision until 2017 at the earliest. This will leave many blind and partially sighted people trying to decipher information in inaccessible formats, and often needing to rely on assistance to do so.
We will continue to try to influence DWP and get the situation resolved as soon as possible.
Find out what we're doing on our accessible information campaign. We campaign to ensure that people with sight loss receive information in a format they can read from their service providers and public authorities.Check out the latest accessible information campaign news