The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is disputing the interpretation being applied to Activity 7 of the revised, post-March work capability assessment (WCA) of employment and support allowance (ESA) by Atos Healthcare, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and appeal tribunals.

Activity 7 of the WCA relates to communication:

“​Understanding communication by both verbal means (such as hearing or lip reading) and non-verbal means (such as reading 16-point print) using any aid it is reasonable to expect them to use, unaided by another person.”​

Atos, decision-makers and tribunals seem to be interpreting the wording of Activity 7 to mean that claimants are required to have both hearing and visual impairments to secure points in this domain.

RNIB are arguing that the use of the words “​both”​ and “​and”​ means that the effects of either a visual impairment or hearing loss should be assessed separately, and that this in effect means that if a claimant has a visual impairment and can understand verbal communication but not non-verbal communication points should be available in this activity. Similarly points should be available for hearing impaired claimants who can read written communication but are not able to understand speech.

RNIB’​s first ESA appeal under the revised WCA was adjourned and the DWP has been directed to respond to RNIB’​s submission in relation to Activity 7. RNIB also requested the Tribunal Service declare the case a “​lead case”​ with all similar cases being “​stayed”​ pending the outcome of RNIB’​s case.

RNIB would like to hear from anyone with similar cases, contact: legalrigh​This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information can be found at


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