My Department is committed to the provision of information to all of its customers in clear and easy to access formats, which adhere to the guidelines outlined by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA). I fully recognise the barrier that literacy difficulties can cause for individuals who are trying to gain an understanding of and access to services and supports available. Therefore, we have recently awarded a one year contract to NALA for the provision of plain English writing, editing and training services to the Department. The estimated value of the contract is €100,000 (excluding VAT). Information on the range of schemes and services is published in plain English and we also provide information in alternative formats such as an Interpreters service, Braille and audio. A Sign Language Interpreter is also available where necessary.
The Intreo Centres assist individuals with their employment and income support services needs, and also provides a personalised service via my Department's Case Officers, including referrals to literacy courses locally in the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) which are free of charge. These courses are usually part-time and the customer remains on their social welfare payment.
My Departments aim in relation to work schemes such as Community Employment (CE) is to enhance the employability of disadvantaged and unemployed people, by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. Participants on CE, work to their own individual learning plan, setting personal learning and progression goals at a level that suits their aptitude and capacity. This is decided between the scheme CE supervisor and the participant. Facilitating further education including literacy skills, has the benefit of ensuring that participants take the initial steps in educational progression and, in time, achieve further qualifications and employment.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.