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PIP Telephone Assessment

JeffreyDriver Member Posts: 11 Listener
I've received a letter telling me to expect a telephone assessment in a couple of days. I've previously sent a complaint that I struggle to use the phone, and so requested that the DWP contact me via letter or email. A few weeks/months ago the DWP did contact me to let me know that they would set up a unique email address they they/I could use to communicate. That hasn't happened.

After panicking, I investigated Textphones, and discovered an app from BT regarding their relay service that I can use on my computer. Has anyone used this? My hearing and speech isn't affected, but expressing myself, and verbally getting my thoughts out coherently is difficult. (Imagine the words/ideas are in a pepper pot, and shaking it means they come out in a random order.) Could I still request to use a relay service? The phone would be more stressful than face to face, but text would be ideal as I could could get my thoughts in order.


  • yanni
    yanni Member Posts: 55 Pioneering

    I use this service and haven’t had any problems with it, including when ringing the DWP.

     I haven’t had an assessment using it but if they are still doing telephone assessments when my PIP is reviewed I am planning on using this service as my hearing is not good enough to manage a long phone conversation with a stranger.

    Legally, there should be no problem requesting the assessment via this service but sometimes what the law says and what the assessment provider does are two different things. It could mean that the assessor decides that you didn’t take part in the assessment because the text relay assistant 'answered' the phone for you or have some ‘data protection’ issue because there is a 3rd party ( the text relay assistant) on the call. If this did happen your file may be returned to the DWP unprocessed.

     Another issue is that if you are claiming issues with verbal communication it would be difficult for the assessor to understand how this affects you if you are communicating via text.

     If you have supporting evidence (medical or from people who know you) of your difficulties then this should be less of an issue but it is something to bear in mind - is it better than the assessor can ‘see’ your difficulties even if that means a stressful telephone conversation?

     If you do decide to go with the text relay option,I would set up the text relay on your computer and ‘phone’ the assessment provider on it.

    Under Options / 3. Text relay on the app, select the ‘I’ll be reading and typing option’.

     You should say that you are requesting that they use the text relay service to contact you as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010.

     Explain that the DWP agreed to communicate with you by letter or email only because of your disability.

    If you are claiming for difficulties with verbal communication, point this out to them as well.

     Give them your phone number including the 18002 prefix to call you on.

     At the end of the call, copy and paste the text of the conversation onto a blank document so you have a record of making this request if there are problems with the assessment company ignoring your request. 

    Please come back and let us know how you get on or if you have any questions.


  • JeffreyDriver
    JeffreyDriver Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Thank you, that's very helpful. I've already complained to the DWP that the telephone isn't a suitable method of communication for me. They agreed to set up an email address I could use, but that hasn't happened. I've downloaded the computer app for the text but have no experience of it, so that makes me anxious. As I understand it, if someone calls me (using the prefix) then as long as I have the app running, it should all sync up.
  • yanni
    yanni Member Posts: 55 Pioneering
    edited May 2020

    This video explains how to receive a call on a Windows PC (there are others showing how to do the same on IOS and Android)
    It refers to Next Generation Text / NGT which is the old name for the same service. You can see that the icon is the same.


    I can understand you being anxious about using this for the first time something as important as a PIP assessment.
    Is there someone you could ask to call you as a trial run so you can see how it works in advance?

    I meant to say last time that I seem to remember that  if the assessment provider has an options menu (Press 1 for customer services.... Press 2 for accounts etc) you need to type '1' etc on the screen rather than press the phone pad. I am not 100% sure on this so maybe both press the button on your phone and type it on the screen.

    Please come back if you have any questions.
  • JeffreyDriver
    JeffreyDriver Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Thanks. I've spoken to them via text but they refused to accept an assessment via text relay so they're going to get back to me.
  • yanni
    yanni Member Posts: 55 Pioneering
    @mikehughescq could I ask your opinion on this? 
    Surely if someone can't communicate by phone the AP needs to make reasonable adjustments under EA10?
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,555 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @JeffreyDriver, I'm glad other members have been able to support you here. Did the say why they were unable to accept it?

    I just want to say welcome to the community and please do let us know how you get on. :)

  • yanni
    yanni Member Posts: 55 Pioneering
    Hi @JeffreyDriver
    I was just wondering? if you managed to get something sorted out with this? 
    How did your assessment go (if you don't mind sharing) ?
  • JeffreyDriver
    JeffreyDriver Member Posts: 11 Listener
    I have not had my assessment yet as they completely refused to allow it via text relay. They made lots of excuses, saying that they haven't found a suitable text relay system. The person I spoke to repeatedly had to go on hold for ages to speak to someone. I quoted a line from their letter "Please inform us as soon as possible if you need to have the assessment conducted through the text relay service" and I was again put on hold and when they came back with "it's not like were trying to breach any equalities act were physically not allowed to do them at this time."

    This back and forth went on for a while, and I even have the text relay transcript. I personally believe that the fact that you get a transcript of a text relay call is why they are so resistant. I told them I would send a formal complaint.

    So I contacted the text relay service with a few questions based upon the excuses I was given.
    • Is there some sort of time limit on text relay calls?
    • Can you guarantee availability of at least an hour?
    • Can businesses and government departments use your service?
    • Are there any sort of limits to be aware of? E.g times of day?
    • Is there anything that would mean your service is unsuitable for a telephone PIP assessment?

    The text relay team got back to me really quickly.
    "The length of the call is not restricted on the length, the Relay Assistant will stay on the line for as long as the call is in progress. All types of calls are handled by the Relay Service, varying government calls, banking calls to personal calls etc.  Any type of calls that are made by hearing people can be made through the Relay Service. There are no restrictions or limits of when the service can be used, the service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Many telephone PIP assessments have been handled through the Relay Service.  Although they may take slightly longer than a normal call due to the Relay Assistant typing the information.  However, this does not affect the assessment."

    Before the end of the day I received a text saying that my appointment was cancelled and postponed for an indefinite period.

    My assessment is with Independent Assessment Services (Atos).

    I'm going to follow up my complaint and inform them that no matter what form my assessment takes I will be recording it.
  • JeffreyDriver
    JeffreyDriver Member Posts: 11 Listener
    As I understand it, they just call me using the prefix 18002. They don't need any special equipment or software. As for safeguarding, I don't see how that applies. Relay Assistants must agree to some code of conduct, either way it's not IAS's issue. 


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