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A successful launch event shows there is still much to do to achieve Accessible Information as Standard

23/11/2017

On Tuesday 21 November, we launched our new report ‘Accessible Information as Standard’ to a room spilling over with 72 people.

Crowd of people at our report launch.Packed house. People in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire care about Accessible Information.

The report examines people’s experiences of trying to get information in a way they can understand when visiting health and care services. People who need information in an accessible format such as braille, British Sign Language or easy read are often not getting it.

The crowd was full of people with information support needs and their loved ones, representatives from local healthcare services, and people representing various health and care advocacy services.

Near the start of the meeting Andy Palmer from Cambridgeshire Deaf Association gave a brief talk in British Sign Language. We handed out an explanation of his speech in Braille. But no information was available in standard English. This meant guests who were hearing and sighted got a small taste of what it was like to be unable to access information.

Next our patient speakers Peter, Enzo, Jason and Sylvia took the stage.

Picture of Peter, Enzo, Jason and Sylvia with her support worker AmandaPatient voices – Thank you Peter, Enzo, Jason and Sylvia for making their voices count.

Peter explained the difficulties of trying to access his GP’s booking system while deafblind. Enzo talked about his work providing staff at Peterborough City Hospital with learning disability awareness training. Jason, who is Deaf, told us about a difficult and scary visit to A&E where no sign language interpreter could be found for him. Sylvia described her frustration at not being able to access information about her health in easy read.

Lesley Crosby from North West Anglia Foundation Trust and Anna Tuke from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust spoke next. They are responsible for providing many health and care services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Both described their efforts to work with people with learning and sensory disabilities to improve their access to information, and both acknowledged that there was much still to be done. Cambridge University Hospitals Trust also sent a statement acknowledging the need for further work around this issue.

We invited Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG to provide a speaker for the meeting, but they declined to do so.

Finally, the floor was open to questions and experiences.

There was an overwhelming sense that people with disabilities are facing huge barriers in getting information they can access. This echoes what we found in our report.

Patients described their treatment as unfair. They explained that their family members are being expected to act as interpreters. They stated that health professionals were failing to record their needs or ask them what support they needed. They said that even when support was requested it was often not given.

At Healthwatch, we acknowledge that a great amount of further work is needed on this important and serious issue. There is a long way to go until we have Accessible information as Standard for everybody.

Health providers present at the launch promised that they would work to bring about the change that is so clearly needed. We promise that we will continue to do the same.

You can find our report in easy read, standard English, large print, giant print and audio by clicking here. Braille copies are available on request – call 0330 355 1285 or email enquiries@healthwatchcambridgeshire.co.uk to get one.

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