Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Questions (384)

Micheál Martin

Question:

384. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the involvement of his Department in tackling adult literacy; if a financial allocation is provided for same; if so, the way in which it is utilised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40674/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department aims to ensure that the needs of all its customers are met and that rights to equal treatment are upheld in the delivery of services. However, it is also conscious that some of its customers may have literacy difficulties and cannot easily access, understand and/or use information on the Department's schemes and services. In this regard, my Department has a number of measures in place including a "BrowseAloud" facility on its website which reads web pages aloud for people with literacy and/or visual impairments.

In accordance with Section 26(2) of the Disability Act 2005, two Access Officers have been assigned to ensure, when requested, that material can be provided in a format more suitable to individual circumstances.

Bearing in mind the need to communicate clearly in both written and verbal communications, my Department also provides step by step guidelines, user friendly explanatory manuals, question and answer sheets and working examples for most schemes, as well as telephone help lines to deal with queries.

There is no specific financial allocation provided as customer needs are met from within existing resources as required. This may involve additional expenditure in response to specific requests for assistance. For instance, my Department has provided:

- a reprinted version of scheme Terms and Conditions booklets in large fonts, and

- an audio version of scheme Terms and Conditions.

In addition to the above and as part of its quality customer service, my Department has put in place a Farmers Charter which among other things is intended to provide information in relation to the delivery of services and implementation of schemes in a clear, simple and easily understood format.

My Department's officials are available at all times to assist persons with any issues and to discuss or answer questions they may have on any of our farming schemes and services.