The Accessible Information Standard – an update

Today sees the first implementation deadline of The Accessible Information Standard.

The Accessible Information Standard sets out what health and social care providers in England need to do to make sure they provide information in accessible formats and communication support for appointments where appropriate.  It applies to all providers of health and adult social care where people need services to be made accessible because of a sensory impairment and/or a learning disability.  The Standard isn’t optional; it’s mandatory and must be followed.

Sense has been working closely with NHS England, supporting the development of the Standard for the past couple of years, and we are very excited to see it begin to be implemented.

We know many deafblind people have experienced difficulties in accessing health and social care due to not having information in accessible formats or appropriate communication support available.  This is why we have been making sure the needs of deafblind people are fully represented and included in The Standard.

There are five steps that providers need to take to implement the standard:

  • Identify the communication and information needs of those who use their service
  • Record the communication and information needs they have identified: clearly and consistently on the person’s record, recording their needs not why they have those needs i.e. “requires BSL interpreter” not “person is d/Deaf”.
  • Have a consistent flagging system so that if a member of staff opens the individual’s record it is immediately brought to their attention if the person has a communication or information need.
  • Share the identified information and communication needs of the individual when appropriate; for example a GP referring a patient to the hospital including the information that the person needs a deafblind manual interpreter in the referral letter so that the hospital can arrange it for the upcoming appointment.
  • Meet the communication and information needs identified.  For example, send an appointment letter in Braille or book an interpreter for an appointment.

From today, services need to be identifying and recording the information and communication needs of those use their services.  They need to ensure that they flag, share and meet those needs from 31st July this year.

So what should you do now?

If you have information and communication needs – for example, you need appointment letters emailed to you so you can use the screen reader on your computer to read them, or you need a BSL interpreter when you visit your GP – make sure that you share this information next time you contact or visit the service.  Be aware though, that they don’t have to meet this need until 31st July (although some providers might be up and running already).

If you need more information on the Standard please visit the NHS England Website: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/patients/accessibleinfo-2/ or contact Sense Information and Advice: 020 7520 0972 / email: info@sense.org.uk

For media please contact mediaenquiries@sense.org.uk

Sarah White

Author: Sarah White

I lead Sense’s work relating to Health Policy, campaigning to ensure that people with sensory impairments can access healthcare services.

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