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#InfoForAll campaign success: alternative formats of shielding letter available

Unlike letters that went out at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, new letters to the ‘shielding’ population are available in alternative formats thanks to RNIB campaigning.

Image: The exterior of 10 Downing Street

Our #InfoForAll campaign has been highlighting just how important it is that coronavirus updates are accessible for all, and we’re delighted that the Government’s latest letter to people who are ‘shielding’ due to Covid-19 is available in alternative formats.

At the top of the letter is a large print instruction for people who want to receive the letter in alternative formats, to contact RNIB to get hold of one. We’ve worked with NHS England to produce alternative formats of this letter, including large print, audio versions and Braille, and in just over a day we had over 40 requests through our helpline.

The number of requests shows just how essential it is that the information is available to everyone, and highlights the number of people who were let down by previous letters not being available in alternative formats.

How has RNIB achieved this?

Since the start of the outbreak, we’ve been working as part of a group of leading charities, tackling the problem of inaccessible public health information coming from the Government. The group has been instrumental in the appointment of a senior national lead for accessible information within the Cabinet Office, and stronger connections with communications teams across Government departments. These connections have allowed us to work with NHS England on the most recent shielding letter.

What should mailouts be like in the future?

The NHS should be following the NHS Accessible Information Standard, and therefore know what people’s communication preferences are. We would like people to be able to receive letters from the Government in their preferred format, without having to specifically request it.

How can I get hold of the letter in an alternative format?

If you’re blind or partially sighted, and shielded due to being at high risk from Covid-19, you can request the Government letter from us in an alternative format. You can contact the RNIB helpline at [email protected], or call on 0303 123 9999, 8am to 8pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.