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 the AtW Business Centers via telephone or email.


Employers Guidelines

Have you made reasonable calculations for the support you will need?


The Government has announced that the limit on awards made under the Access to Work scheme will raise from £57,200 to £59,200 in April 2019.


The proportion of the total costs covered by Access to Work varies substantially in different employment situations:

  • A Deaf person needing communication support of a BSL communicator/Interpreter or a lip-speaker at a job interview will have the whole cost paid.

  • If a Deaf person is starting a job with a new employer they will receive a grant to cover all the approved costs of technical aids; perhaps a minicom or pager system.  Communication support as detailed above and any deaf awareness training required for colleagues can be paid in full provided that applications are made within the first six weeks of starting the job.

  • Should a Deaf person need technical aids to enable them to keep their existing job with their present employer there is a threshold of £300 above which 80% of approved costs will be paid for through Access to Work.  This is up to approved costs of £10,000 over a three year period. All approved costs over £10,000 will be paid for through Access to Work.


Present employers must agree to pay for the first £300 and 20% of the remainder of the approved costs up to £10,000. This means in effect that present employers will have to pay most, if not all, of the cost of a technical communication aid such as an amplified telephone, textphone or radio microphone before qualifying for any contribution from Access to Work.  Grants of any kind from Access to Work relate only to approved costs.​


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.


Remember when completing this form to calculate for the following:


  • Team Meetings:  Do you need communication support to ensure full inclusion?  If so, how many meetings will you have?  One a week for 48 weeks?  One a month and so on.  Include these in a yearly application so that you only have to make one application and not several, perhaps every time you need communication support.


  • Staff Training:  Do you do this regularly?  Is it part of the induction process or do your staff need training at specific points in the person’s career with you?  If so, think what would be appropriate; 5 training days a year?  (2 communication support workers will be needed per 8hr day)


  • Staff Appraisal:  The employee may need communication support and a notetaker to ensure they fully understand the Appraisal Interview.


  • AGM:  Do the staff go to a conference?  Are they expected to stay in a hotel?  If so, does the Deaf employee have communication support for such an event?


  • Job Coaching:  Will the employee need specific software training?  If so, you could organise a Job Coach for a specific period to ensure the employee has full access to the training and on the job tuition other employees would receive.


  • Deaf Awareness Training: Arrange  half day training for co-workers of the Deaf employee so that they can gain an insight into how they can work effectively alongside their new colleague and breakdown misconceptions and language barriers.


  • Pager Systems: Do you need to contact your employee in an emergency?  Do you have a tannoy system?  This can be linked to a pager system so that the Deaf employee can attach this to a belt and gain messages from a manager, reception, file alarm and alike.


  • Minicom:  Can the employee contact you with ease?  A minicom will allow direct contact with the Deaf employee or members of his/her family.

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.


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.