Written Answers. - Additional Costs of Disability.

Seamus Brennan

Question:

88 Mr. S. Brennan asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the heavy additional costs borne by deaf people as a result of their deafness; the plans, if any, he has to amend the domiciliary care allowance which gives the parents of deaf children £100 per month up to age 16; the plans, if any, he has to amend the mobility allowance; his views on the need for some level of assistance from his Department to adult deaf people who are in employment but who have heavy additional costs to maintain a similar lifestyle to non-deaf people at similar income levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8625/96]

, Limerick East): I am aware that people with physical and sensory disabilities such as deaf people may incur additional costs as a result of their disability. I understand that this issue is being addressed by the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities which is to report shortly. Any amendment of the domiciliary care allowance which is currently £97.70 per month or the mobility allowance currently £38.00 per month will be taken in light of the commission's report.

Voluntary organisations for the deaf which are grant aided by the health boards, provide a range of services to deaf people including counselling, interpreting services and specialised equipment. The National Rehabilitation Board (NRB) provides the State audiology service. This service provides hearing tests, hearing aid supply and fittings and hearing aid repairs for all children up to school leaving age regardless of parental income and for all adult medical card holders.

The NRB administers two employment schemes which act as incentives for employers to employ people with disabilities, including deaf people. The employment support scheme caters for people whose disability results in a significantly reduced capacity to operate to full productivity standards by providing a subsidy to employers based on reduced productivity. The Pilot Programme for the Employment of People with Disabilities, introduced in 1994 for an initial three-year period, contains an employment support fund which is a subsidy payable for each employee with a disability related to their productive capacity. It is a condition of participation in the programme that at least 50 per cent of the employees are people with a disability.