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Accessible Information Standard

On 24 June 2015, the new ‘accessible information standard’ was approved by the Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI). The standard is known officially as SCCI1605 Accessible Information. An update has been published along with the Specification for the standard and supporting documents. The official Information Standards Notice (ISN) has also been published on the Health and Social Care Information Centre website.


An Information Standard is a formal guidance document which health and social care organisations must follow by law.

The accessible information standard tells organisations how they should ensure that disabled patients / service users and, where appropriate, carers and parents, receive information in formats that they can understand, and that they receive appropriate support to help them to communicate.

A short update about the approval of the standard is available:

If you would like a copy of this introduction in an alternative format, for example braille, please contact us by email to england.nhs.participation@nhs.net or telephone 0113 825 0861.

The accessible information standard also tells organisations how they should make sure that people get any support with communication that they need, for example support from a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, deafblind manual interpreter or an advocate.

What does the accessible information standard tell organisations to do? 

As part of the accessible information standard, organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must do five things. They must:

  1. Ask people if they have any information or communication needs, and find out how to meet their needs.
  2. Record those needs clearly and in a set way.
  3. Highlight or flag the person’s file or notes so it is clear that they have information or communication needs and how to meet those needs.
  4. 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.
  5. Take steps to ensure that people receive information which they can access and understand, and receive communication support if they need it.

Who must follow the accessible information standard?

All organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must follow the standard. This includes NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, and GP practices. Organisations that commission (pay for and make decisions about) NHS and adult social care services must also make sure that they support the standard.

Why must organisations follow the standard?

Organisations must follow the standard by law. This is explained in Section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

More information

There is more information about the accessible information standard, including the Specification and Implementation Guidance, on the NHS England website at www.england.nhs.uk/accessibleinfo

More information, including more information in alternative formats, will be published on the NHS England website during summer and autumn 2015. Charities including Action on Hearing Loss, CHANGE, Sense, and the Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB) will also be publishing information.

The ‘Information Standards Notice’ which is the formal document which tells organisations that they must follow the standard is published on the Health and Social Care Information Centre website at www.hscic.gov.uk/isce/publication/scci1605

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