New NHS standard for your blind and partially sighted patients

GP talking to elderly patientThe Accessible Information Standard ensures that disabled patients receive information in formats that they can understand and receive appropriate support to help them to communicate.

It mandates that:

  • By 1 April 2016, GP services and other healthcare providers identify and record the communication and information needs of patients with sight impairments.
  • By 31 July 2016, systems are in place and healthcare services provide information in a format that their patients can read.

The NHS England website has eLearning tools and full standards documentation on the information standard.

Why the standard is so important

Dr Ralph Sullivan (Clinical Lead for Patient Online Access at the RCGP) highlights the importance of accessible information for patients with sight loss, including those registered blind and partially sighted:

“Our patients rely on good communication which for most people is achieved through printed information, but for anyone with sight difficulties, printed information is often inaccessible. It needs to be in a larger font or in an alternative format such as by email, SMS text, audio on CD or in some cases in braille. Around 1 in 180 people are registered blind or partially sighted, so this is a niche audience when compared to the total patient population, but for each individual facing a piece of paper with important health information on it, the need for accessibility is high. Last year 86% of blind and partially sighted people said they found it difficult or impossible to read medication information, according to RNIB's MyVoice survey 2015.”