Accessible Information Standard comes into force

New framework will ensure clearer health and care information for disabled people and their carers.

People with disabilities will benefit from improved health and care after new requirements come into force today, ensuring they receive easily accessible information and support.

The Accessible Information Standard aims to ensure that people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss are provided with information that they can easily read or understand with support so they can communicate effectively with services. Examples of the types of support that might be required include large print, braille or using a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.

All organisations that provide NHS care or adult social care are required to follow the new standard, including NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, and GP practices. As part of the accessible information standard, these organisations 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 those needs should be met.
  • 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.

The Accessible Information Standard took more than two years to develop overseen by NHS England, working in partnership with the Health and Social Care Information Centre and with a range of charities including the RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Sense, CHANGE and independent patient representatives. The standard was published in July 2015, meaning that organisations then had a year to get everything in place to be able to meet the requirements of the Standard by 31st July 2016.

Anu Singh, Director of Patient and Public Participation at NHS England, said: “Good quality, accessible health and care information is essential, particularly for patients with the greatest needs. We must strive for equality across the health service and this new framework will help patients with disabilities receive improved standards of care and be more involved in how that care is delivered.”


  1. neil webb-johnson says:

    It appears that the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust are yet to learn and/or implement this

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Neil,
      We are sorry to hear that you feel that Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust are yet to implement the Standard. If you are unhappy with the care you have experienced, you may wish to make a complaint, there is advice on the NHS Complaints Process on the NHS Choices website – Alternatively, or in addition, you could contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team at the hospital, to discuss your experience and / or the Accessible Information Standard.
      Kind regards, NHS England.

  2. Steven Abbott says:


    The AIS Implementation Guidance states in places:
    • “Note that print-ready templates for letters and posters will be made available as part of resources to support implementation” and
    • “Further advice about creating accessible documents, including for users of assistive technology, will be made available as part of the suite of tools to support implementation of the Standard”

    I might have missed these? Can you let me know if they’re available and where I can find them.

  3. Autumn Moon says:

    Some hospitals appear to not be aware that they should book a qualified interpreter for their Deaf patients who use sign language as their language. Can they choose to follow the accessible standards or does by law mean by law??

  4. Pearl Baker says:

    Those subject to Section 117 MHA are being discharged from Care Plans, in the name of money. ‘invisible to the system’ The CQC inspection process, requires the CCGs, Hospital Trusts to hold a Register of those subject to Section 117, important they request sight of this Register and Patients Medical records when Inspecting GP Surgeries.

    The latest idea that GP Surgeries will be inspected every four years if they receive a ‘Good’ rating is a complete waste of time. I have the evidence that the most vulnerable are being neglected by all agencies.

  5. Michele Morton says:

    Hello, can you point me in the direction of where it says in the guidance that italics should not be used? thank you

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Michelle,
      The Accessible Information Standard does not state that ‘italics should not be used’. The Standard requires that people (patients, service users, carers and parents) with a disability or sensory loss receive accessible information and communication support. ‘Accessible information’ is defined as ‘information which is able to be read or received and understood by the individual or group for which it is intended’. For some individuals, italicised text may be inaccessible. The Implementation Guidance<> provides advice about how to make ‘standard versions’ of documents as accessible as possible to as many people as possible (see especially section 6.4.3). This is also covered in our ‘Accessible Information Standard: Towards Excellence’ e-learning module<>.
      Kind regards,
      NHS England

  6. Frances Groat says:

    I have just read this “Alternatively, or in addition, you could contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team at the hospital, to discuss your experience, and also to make them aware of their duties as part of the Accessible Information Standard.” in the NHS England’s reply to “Jill Honeybun says:
    10 August, 2016 at 4:37 am” complaint.
    It is not the duty nor the responsibility of members of the public to inform hospitals of their responsibilities to their patients nor too ensure that relevant Legislation is being adhered to by the hospital staff.
    This is what you (NHS England) are receiving monies from the public purse too ensure is happening throughout the NHS, and in fact what all NHS staff are being paid too do; as, if they are not, then surely they are committing a criminal act of at a minimum, fraudulently receiving payment for work that has not been carried out to the contractual standards, but that they falsely claim has been.

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Frances,
      NHS England does not believe that it is the duty or responsibility of members of the public to inform organisations of their responsibilities or legal duties, and we apologise if our previous response implied this – it was not our intention. NHS England has undertaken significant communications activities to raise awareness of the Accessible Information Standard with organisations required to implement and follow it, including NHS Trusts. We have also made available a range of resources<> to support effective implementation and compliance. Conformance with the Standard is a specific legal duty – as set out in section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012<>. It is also a requirement of the NHS Standard Contract 2016/17<>. In developing the Standard, we have worked alongside a number of partners, including the Care Quality Commission (CQC)<>. The CQC have stated that they will be looking at how services implement the Accessible Information Standard as part of their inspections.
      Kind regards,
      NHS England

  7. Jill Honeybun says:

    My son was admitted on 1st August for a GA. He has severe learning difficulties, at 37 he has a mental age of 3-4 years old. I’d explained to all staff beforehand, so this should have been well recorded. He was welcomed by a nurse whose English was so poor I struggled to understand about 40% of what she was saying. My son probably understood nothing. She gabbled what she was saying, although I’d asked everyone to speak to him slowly and choose simple words and sentences. Staff never treated him appropriately. One even said to him, “On a scale of one to ten, how would you say your pain is at the moment?” I said there was no point in asking him this. She said she needed to know. I explained he wouldn’t have understood the question posed in that way, and she didn’t understand why not!!!

  8. John Payne says:

    My profoundly disabled 24 yr old son always requires sedation for any invasive procedure, one of his problems is recurring esophageal strictures, the last time that he needed treatment ( an esophageal dilatation under general anaesthetic) it took 63 days from initial contact with the hospital to the procedure taking place, during this period he had two aspiration episodes, which could have necessitated an emergency admission to hospital for aspiration pneumonia’s, thankfully we are allowed to keep antibiotics at home (in powder form) and we began treatment before the infection took hold and saved an admission to hospital and the cost involved for an admission for the NHS. Will this new framework help my son get speedier treatment in the future ? We made the hospital very aware of the possible consequences (aspiration) that a prolonged delay in treatment could have, but it looked as if our info fell on to deaf ears. Thank you for any help you can give me.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please could someone contact me about me being left unable to eat due to having teeth out because of malabsorption. I can’t eat at all now and I am becoming more malnourished.I will die of starvation and no one is taking responsibility for implants. I can’t wear dentures due to mouth disease.TY.

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Sir/Madam,
      Unfortunatley we are unable to provide medical advice but would urge you to contact your GP or call 111 (the NHS non-emergency number) for help and advice.
      Kind regards
      NHS England.

  10. Georgina Lyons says:

    Reminds of the lengthy questionnaire which SW’s filled in regarding care needs of the vulnerable clients.
    Which was then left with client and none of the professionals looked at. ( didn’t know about or had forgotten about)