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Andrew Arthur

I thought it might help people to understand how Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for deaf people came about and why we have problems with it.

Now, DLA is only granted to deaf people who can show that they need attention to their bodily functions. This is a legal phrase. This happened because of a young woman called Rebecca Halliday.

Becky Halliday was a deaf woman working in a hospital and she got Attendance Allowance to help with the expense of being a deaf person in a hearing environment.

When the DLA scheme was announced, Becky discovered that she would no longer qualify for the new scheme even though she had met the requirements of the old scheme. She applied for DLA and was refused. She appealed and her case was taken up (can’t remember who by now) and eventually after a LOT of legal wrangling it went all the way to the House of Lords.

Now, the basis of the Halliday appeal was that DLA was intended to help people who needed assistance with their bodily functions. For some reason most people think of the loo and the bathroom but Halliday argued that hearing is a bodily function and because she needed assistance with hers she ought to get DLA. That’s how the decision went in the end.

So actually there is no law that says Deaf people should get DLA.

What we have to do is show that we need attention to the bodily function of hearing. This involves setting out in some detail the assistance one needs with the daily business of getting through the day as a deaf person. Please note that you do not have to GET this help, you just have to show a need for it.

It has been shown via legal precedents and DLA Commissioner’s rulings that deaf people can get DLA if they show that other people have to make an adjustment to help them and that’s what you have to show the Tribunal. The “trick” with the application is don’t describe how you cope or get help. Don’t even mention it. What the Tribunal needs to know is what PROBLEMS you have. All of them!

For most deaf people it is quite a long list and of course we all have similar needs because we all have the same problem!

There have been various Commissioner’s decisions regarding deaf people’s needs under the DLA and these are precedents. In other words another Commissioner cannot come along and say something different. Once a decision has been made it is there for all time. That is why we have to be careful to say only the right things. An application for DLA should be entirely negative. They don’t want to know what you can do or how well you can cope, they want to hear what you CANNOT do, like telephones (forget Typetalk) or talking to people in the dark... the cinema for example. Or care at night. If your house catches fire in the night, will you hear people shouting the alarm? If not then DLA rules apply. Your need is for someone to watch over you and keep you safe.

That’s briefly how it works.

Here is a link to some of the Commissioner’s decisions in the past relating to deaf people and DLA. It’s a bit tedious reading but it will help you to understand what you have to tell them to get DLA.