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Access to Work (AtW)

Access to Work (AtW) is intended to help disabled people get or keep jobs by providing funding to cover the cost of practical support and specialist equipment.  AtW grants can cover the cost of interpreters or other communication support, or provide accessible equipment. Access to Work is run by the Employment Service.  


Applications for AtW can be made through Deaf Umbrella or the AtW Business Centers via telephone:

Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579
Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 121 7479
British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service if you’re on a computer - find out how to use the service on mobile or tablet

aplying online or by email.

Take a look to this accessible and user-friendly AtW guide, packed with all the essential information you need.  ⁠Also we suggest you to read our guide with the top 10 questions both employers and employees ask, with crystal-clear answers to pave your way.


As the new employer you must complete the AtW form with the Deaf employee and send it back to the Adviser at the AtW Business Centre.

Once the application form has been examined and the AtW Adviser has confirmed that the applicant appears to be eligible for support, the AtW Adviser may arrange to see you and your employee at the place of work to make a full appraisal of the support needed.  This appraisal should involve a detailed examination of the requirements of the job, the effects of the person’s deafness on how they do their job and the various types of support that might be helpful.

The AtW Adviser may ask for advice from a specialist assessor as part of this appraisal. Any visiting assessor should have explained to them what support the deaf person feels is needed, this support can include deaf awareness training for colleagues.

A report based on all the above will be produced by the AtW Advisor.  This will contain all recommendations on the support for which financial assistance will be provided under Access to Work.  You will be informed accordingly.


Once agreement is reached on the funding, the support can be provided.  Even if you are advised of choice of support you may choose your own provider.


Applications can be agreed immediately or take several weeks depending on the complexity of the requirements. 


Please note: this guidance was written as general advice and the authors and publishers can accept no liability for loss or damage arising from the reliance upon any advice provided in this guidance.

disability confident employer

Case Study



  • I was unable to do my job effectively.

  • I lost confidence and felt left out.

  • I was unable to converse with office staff as my first language is BSL (British Sign Language)

      and staff do not understand sign language.

  • I was unable to deal with queries face to face or converse on the telephone with

      customers without a CSW I would have to ask other staff to assist me,

  • I was unable to do my job effectively and deal with queries, face-face with customers

  • I was unable to do training without a CSW to translate BSL to English.

  • Without a CSW it was difficult to do my job as I communicated by writing queries down.  Mistakes may be made if I misunderstood and it took longer to resolve; as staff are busy.     

  • Without a CSW I did not attend meetings and I am sometimes required too. Minutes will need to be explained or text modified.

  • Staff sometimes forget I am deaf and contact the Office telephone to talk to me, I am unable to answer.

  • Letters/emails, as my first language is BSL, I found it difficult at times as I

      required a CSW to explain or modify text.





  • I am now confident and happy in my job, my CSW supports me and translates English to

      BSL, explains and modifies text which enables me to do my job effectively.

  • CSW keeps me in the loop with Office conversations.  

  • I feel part of the team and frequently converse with staff via CSW.

  • CSW gave Deaf Awareness and staff have a better understanding of me.

  • I can attend meetings and training with my CSW.

  • With a CSW, daily queries with customers are resolved quickly on the

       Telephone and face to face.

  • I have been complimented on my work by the Company Director.





  • My CSW will translate and explain letters/emails received.

  • Letters/emails to be sent - my CSW modifies text for me, as my first language is BSL.

  • Because I am deaf, I am unable to hear conversations within the office, my CSW

      always translates, keeps me in the loop and I contribute to the conversation.

  • I am able to deal with queries on a daily basis concerning allocations/payroll/annual

      leave/mileage/rotas/client changes, via my CSW either by a 3 way telephone

      Conversation or one-one with customers and staff when they come to the office.

  • With a CSW to translate, when I need to talk to Office staff, Managers or Director’s

       queries can be resolved quickly.

  • CSW contacts customers via telephone on my behalf.

  • Often customers come to the office. I converse via my CSW





I’m happy as I can now do my job effectively, I have continuity with the same CSW; they knows our customers and the way I work. I’m happy and work well with the CSW because we match my signing, understands me and I feel relaxed and comfortable with them. My CSW supports me, is knowledgeable in their role, encourages Deaf Awareness and communication with staff, modifies text and translates English to BSL. Communication has improved and I feel confident in my role, part of the team and queries are resolved quickly.


case study
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