So what is the Accessible Information Standard?
By law (section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012), all organisations that provide NHS care or adult social care must follow the Accessible Information Standard in full from 31st July 2016 onwards.
What is the Accessible Information Standard for?
It aims to make sure that people who have a disability or sensory loss get information that they can access and understand, and any communication support that they need.
- It tells organisations how they should make sure that patients and service users, and their carers and parents, can access and understand the information they are given. This includes making sure that people get information in accessible formats.
- It tells organisations how they should make sure that people get support from a communication professional if they need it, and about changing working practices to support effective communication.
- Organisations that commission NHS care and / or adult social care, for example Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), and local authorities, must also support implementation of the Standard by provider organisations.
What must organisations do?
Organisations that provide NHS care or adult social care must do five things:
- Ask people if they have any information or communication needs, and find out how to meet their needs.
- Record those needs clearly and in a set way.
- Highlight or flag the person's file or notes so it is clear that they have information or communication needs and how to meet those needs.
- Share information about people's information and communication needs with other providers of NHS and adult social care, when they have consent or permission to do so.
- Take steps to ensure that people receive information which they can access and understand, and receive communication support if they need it.
What does the Standard include?
The Standard says that patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability or sensory loss should:
- Be able to contact, and be contacted by, services in accessible ways, for example via email, text message or Text Relay (Text Relay helps people with hearing loss and/or a speech impairment to access the telephone system).
- Receive information and correspondence in formats they can read and understand, for example in audio, braille, easy read or large print.
- Be supported by a communication professional at appointments if this is needed to support conversation, for example a British Sign Language interpreter.
- Get support from health and care staff and organisations to communicate, for example to lip-read or use a hearing aid.
There is more information about the Accessible Information Standard, including the Specification and Implementation Guidance, on the NHS England website at www.england.nhs.uk/accessibleinfo.
Charities including Action on Hearing Loss, CHANGE, Sense, and the Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB) have also published information.
For more information please email NHS England at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01138253002. Or you can write to Accessible Information Standard, NHS England, 7E56, Quarry House, Quarry Hill, Leeds, LS2 7UE.