Accessible information

Making health and social care information accessible

Image of an open book Image of two hands signingImage of fingers reading a braille document

NHS England is developing an Information Standard for accessible information. A consultation on the draft standard is now open and runs until 9 November 2014. An update about progress with this work and next steps was published (in June 2014) and an engagement report is available.  Piloting of the draft standard is expected to begin in November 2014.


An Information Standard is a framework of requirements and recommendations which health and social care organisations must follow, like a formal guidance document.

This guidance will tell organisations how they should ensure that disabled patients / service users and, where appropriate, carers, receive information in formats that they can understand, and that they receive appropriate support to help them to communicate, which may include advocacy.

A short introduction to the project, including an update about progress with the project to date and next steps is available here:

Image of someone reading a book(Click on the image to the left to download an easy read version)

If you would like a copy of this introduction in an alternative format, for example braille, please contact us by email to or telephone 0113 8251324.

We want to ensure that this work is informed by the views of people who will be affected by it. A consultation on the draft standard is taking place from 13 August until 9 November 2014. From November 2013 until 21 February 2014, we ran an engagement exercise to seek views – more information about getting involved.

An Advisory Group has been established to oversee this work. More information about this Group, including approved Minutes of meetings.

For more information about Information Standards please visit Information Standards Board website.

Getting involved

Image showing two people invovled in a conversationWe want to know what lots of different people think about our plans for making health and social care information accessible. This includes patients, carers and service users who are d/Deaf or have some hearing loss, blind or have some visual loss, are deafblind, or have a learning disability. It also includes health and social care professionals and organisations, patient groups and communication professionals.


From 13 August until 9 November 2014 there is a consultation on the draft accessible information standard.

We have used the experiences and opinions people shared as part of the engagement phase to write the draft standard. More information about the engagement phase, including the report, is available below.

As part of the consultation, we would like to know what you think about the draft standard we have written, before the standard is final.

There is a consultation document which explains more about the draft standard available here:

Once you have read, watched or listened to the consultation document, please let us know what you think by completing a consultation survey. The survey is available online and in a range of different formats:

We are also publishing all of the draft documents which currently make up the standard, which have written for consideration by the Standardisation Committee for Care Information. You do not need to read these documents to have your say as part of the consultation – the consultation document includes the important points. Note also that all of these documents are draft and as such subject to change. Health and care professionals and suppliers of IT systems may want to read the documents as they include the specific requirements of the standard:

Accessible Information Standard Draft Stage Documents

During the consultation period, we will also be working with some voluntary organisations to host some workshops so that patients, service users and carers with information and / or communication needs can have their say.

Sense hosted an event for deafblind people to have their say on 28 August. The Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB) hosted events on 15th, 19th and 23rd September in Newcastle, London and Birmingham. SignHealth hosted events with the d/Deaf community on 22nd September in Bristol. The notes from all of these events will be available soon.

CHANGE are holding events for people with learning disabilities on Wednesday 8 October in Coventry, Thursday 9 October in Leeds, Tuesday 14 October in Manchester and Monday 20 October in Darlington. More information is available on their website, or you can contact Erin or Shaun at: or or ring CHANGE on 0113 388 0011.

Please make sure that you have your say before the consultation closes on 9 November 2014. If you have a query, or would like to ask for a copy of the consultation document or survey in an alternative format, such as braille, please contact us by using this online form, or email or telephone 0113 8251324.


From November 2013 to 21 February 2014 we asked people for their views via three online surveys, so we could find out what different people think. We also worked in partnership with key national charities to support different groups of people to have their say. The report of engagement activity is available in a range of formats:

If you would like a copy of this report in an alternative format such as braille, or a copy posting to you in another format, please contact us by email at or use the contact form or telephone 0113 8251324.

A much longer, analytical report, which also includes ‘free text’ responses, is also available: Report on selected questions from the NHS England Accessible Information Surveys: May 2014, also available as PDF document.

As part of the engagement activity, workshop discussion events were hosted by:

The notes from these workshops are available below:

Sense have produced a short video about the workshop they hosted, this is available on their website.

CHANGE have produced a report of the five focus groups they held, and an easy read summary. They have also produced a short video about the involvement of people with learning disabilities in this work. This is available their website.

In addition, two workshops took place with d/Deaf service users in Wandsworth and the notes from these discussions are now available:

Further information / supporting publications

Standard setting for accessible information advisory group

An Advisory Group has been established to oversee the development, approval and implementation of the Information Standard. This Group includes senior representatives from NHS England, the Health and Social Care Information Centre, Department of Health Directorate of Social Care, independent patient representatives and voluntary organisations working with affected groups (RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss and CHANGE).

Copies of meeting Minutes will be available here as they are ratified.