People with ME/CFS who live in the North of England are being asked to road test the new online application form for Personal Independence Payment before it goes live.
The request comes from the Department for Work and Pensions, which has two researchers based in Leeds and Manchester who are doing all the prep work on the online form.
They would like to hear from people with ME/CFS and other chronic conditions living in the North West, Yorkshire and the North East who are prepared to sit through a two-hour testing session – either in a small group session at a designated centre to be agreed or possibly in their own homes.
The idea is to mimic normal conditions, with a carer or relative in the room – with the aim of ironing out any glitches in the form before it goes online. Service users can bring their own laptop, tablet or smartphone with them and use that but laptops are held in reserve as a back-up.
The researcher will sit with the testers to observe them and ask questions as they go along.
Personal security is uppermost in the minds of the researchers, who have been employed as IT consultants and ‘user researchers' – NOT as DWP spies.
One of researchers, Claudio Franco, commented: “Both of us are security-checked (a pre-condition to work for the DWP). We always ask people NOT to use any personally identifiable information when they're completing the form, eg to use a mock date of birth, mock full name, etc. And we bring photo cards.
“For us, it is really important to see how real potential users react, what they think about it and so on.”
If you want to volunteer for one of these sessions and see if convenient arrangements can be made – or indeed if you are in a position to arrange a session at your own centre – phone Claudio on 07557 757 823 or Simon on 07525 463 050.