Since 31 July 2016, all organisations that provide NHS care or adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard.
NHS England’s Accessible Information Standard tells organisations what they need to do to make sure their services are accessible for people with disabilities and sensory loss; this includes patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability.
The standard aims to make sure that you are give information in a format that you can easily read or understand with support, so you can communicate effectively with health and social care services. Examples of formats include: email, Easy Read, braille, large print, audio; or communication support such as a British Sign Language Interpreter.
Importantly, the new standard is in addition to the existing obligation under the Equality Act 2010 on service providers (including the NHS) to provide information in accessible formats.
What this means for you or the person you care for
- Providers must ask you if you need help to contact them, communicate well or to understand letters or health information.
- They must record your communication and/or information needs in a standardised way so that they know how to support you without you having to request support each time you visit them or receive treatment and/or care. For example, if you cannot use the telephone and require an accessible alternative such as email or SMS text.
- They must ensure your communication and/or information needs are highly visible or linked to an electronic alert on your care record so they know when to take appropriate action. For example, to make sure a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter is booked ahead of your check-up.
- They must share your communication and/or information needs if they refer you to another service, for example, a hospital specialist.
- They must ensure one or more accessible contact and/or communication methods are available for you to use, if you need them. For example, SMS text or Text Relay if you can’t use the telephone – and/or access to a BSL interpreter during your appointment.
For more information
Action on Hearing Loss Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB) CHANGE Sense
You can find more information about the Accessible Information Standard on the NHS England website, here
To find out more, you can contact NHS England at: email@example.com or 01138 253002 or write to them at Accessible Information Standard, NHS England, 7E56, Quarry House, Quarry Hill, Leeds, LS2 7UE.
What Healthwatch Cambrigeshire is doing
At Healthwatch Cambridgeshire, we want to know what’s really happening for people locally. Are services as accessible as they should be?
We are working with Cambridgeshire Deaf Association (CDA) and Cambridgeshire Hearing Help, to talk to deaf and hearing impaired people about this.
CDA are campaigning to improve Deaf people’s access to healthcare locally. They began this in 2014, after SignHealth published their Sick Of It report into health inequalities for Deaf people. You can read more about CDA's campaign work here, including their Deaf Card scheme, launched in May 2016.
Take the survey here
You can also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by Next Generation Text. If you email us and ask for a call-back, please let us know if you have a TextNumber