A disabled campaigner who has been refused permission to apply for a vital disability benefit in a way that is accessible to him has begun legal proceedings against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Graham Kirwan has been told that he is unable to communicate via email as he attempts to claim personal independence payment (PIP).
Kirwan had previously been a long-term claimant of disability living allowance (DLA), but had his payments suspended when he failed to respond to letters asking him to apply for PIP, letters that he says he never received and that would not have been accessible to him anyway.
Kirwan, who is partially-sighted, has computer software that can magnify text, but it does not generally work with scanned or PDF documents.
He has been told by DWP to use the charity Citizens Advice to help with his application for PIP – which is gradually replacing working-age DLA – but he wants to fill in the form himself, so he can take responsibility for the accuracy of the answers.
And he points to DWP guidance that states that email is an acceptable alternative for communication for people with his access needs.
Kirwan says that while most people can fill in their PIP claim form with a pen costing just 10 pence (DWP provides a free envelope and postage), he has spent £1,200 equipping himself with the necessary technology to communicate effectively, as well as facing annual costs of about another £700.
He said: “In this instance the disability is being deliberately created by the DWP. I have no communication disability when allowed to use email and assistive software.