Towards an inclusive health service

Title: Towards an inclusive health service: a report into the availability of health information for blind and partially sighted people.

Author: Eleanor Sibley, Publisher: Dr Foster Intelligence for RNIB, Year of publication: 2009.

Background

RNIB commissioned research, conducted by Dr Foster Intelligence, to investigate, in the UK, the experiences of blind and partially sighted people  who had used NHS services in the last twelve months. The study covered 600  blind and partially sighted people and 500 healthcare professionals in both primary and secondary care. The research has highlighted that barriers to health information remain widespread, and that more progress needs to be made to ensure that health information is accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

Key findings    

  • 95 per cent of blind and partially sighted people feel it is important to have health information in a format they can read for themselves, and most healthcare professionals agree with them on this. However, nine out of ten say they were not asked by NHS staff about what format they required when they were given information.    
  • Blind and partially sighted people feel a loss of privacy and independence if they have to rely on someone else to access personal information.    
  • Eight out of ten blind and partially sighted people said they did not get medicine information in a format they could read.    
  • Appointment letters which are not in accessible formats are directly linked to an increased level of missed appointments.    
  • General health information is not always accessible to blind and partially sighted people, for example guides on managing a long term health condition, and leaflets on how to stop smoking.    
  • Nine out of ten say they do not always ask for or obtain information in accessible formats, with four out of ten saying it takes too much effort, and a small minority saying they did not ask for fear of being labelled as needing special treatment.