The Accessible Information Standard - What you can expect from services

The Accessible Information Standard is mandatory for all organisations that provide National Health Service (NHS) or adult social care. Here’s some key information about the accessible communications you should expect from services.
The Accessible Information Standard - what you can expect from services

The standard aims to make sure that people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss are communicated with in a way that meets their needs. 

Organisations must provide alternative formats where needed, such as braille, large print, and easy read.

They must also support people to communicate, for example by arranging a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, deafblind manual interpreter or an advocate.

What do health and care organisations have to do? 

  1. Ask if you have any communication needs, and asked how these needs can be met.
  2. Record your needs in a clear and set way and highlight these needs in your file or notes so people are aware and know how to meet them.
  3. Share information about your communication needs with other providers of NHS and adult social care, when they have consent or permission to do so.
  4. Deliver information to you in a way you can access and understand, with the option for communication support if needed.

What should you expect? 

So, if you’re speaking to a dentist, doctor, care home manager or any other provider of health and social care, here’s what you can expect:

  1. You should be able to contact, and be contacted by, services in accessible ways, for example via email or text message.
  2. Information and correspondence should be given in formats you can read and understand, for example in audio, braille, easy read or large print. 
  3. You should be supported by a communications professional at appointments if this is needed to support conversation, for example, a British Sign Language interpreter. 
  4. Health and care staff and organisations should support you to communicate, for example, to lip-read or use a hearing aid. 

What can you do if your communication needs are not met? 

We know that not all services are fully compliant with the Accessible Information Standard. 

If you do not receive information about our health and care in a format that suits you, you can: 

  1. Remind service staff that they have a legal duty to provide accessible information under the Accessible Information Standard. 
  2. Make an informal complaint to the nearest Patient Advice and Liaison Service which can help you to resolve issues informally.
  3. Make a formal complaint. If you’re thinking about making a complaint, you are entitled to support from the independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service. 
  4. Share your experience with your local Healthwatch, who will feed back to local services and decision-makers, as well as feed into Healthwatch England’s national advocacy work. 
  5. Get involved with your local Patient Participation Group or patient reference group – groups of patient volunteers which work to represent the voices of patients and improve services. 

Accessible Information as Standard 

Between October 2016 and the summer of 2017, we spoke to over 180 people about their experiences of getting accessible information. We found that many people were not getting information in a way they could read or understand.

Our report - Accessible Information as Standard - calls on health and care service to improve the ways they provide information for people with learning and sensory disabilities. It also highlights the need for better awareness of the standard among both health professionals and members of the public.

Read the report

For more information 

Find out more about the Accessible Information Standard and what it means for you and the people who are important to you. 


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