The Accessible Information Standard (AIS) was introduced in 2016, with the aim of making health and social care information accessible to all people with a disability or sensory loss. AIS supports our equality legislation to ensure you can receive the communication support you need and information you can understand, when accessing health and social care.
Who Must follow AIS?
The standard must be followed by all providers of;
- NHS care or treatment
- Adult social care (publically funded), including social services
- Independent GP practices, dental services, optometric services and pharmacy services where they provide NHS services
- Providers of public health services, including advice and information.
What does the AIS cover?
The AIS covers information or communication support needs and requirements when they are caused by or related to a disability, impairment, or sensory loss.
This would include any information or communications needs of deafblind people.
The types of adjustments provided include;
- Alternative information formats, such as large print, braille, electronic (e.g email) and audio formats.
- Communication support such as a BSL interpreter. (The AIS requires only registered qualified interpreters to be provided).
- Longer length appointments
- Communication tools or aids, such as loop systems
- Support from an advocate if you need support to express your wishes
- Alternative information and communication support when needed by a carer or parent.
- Being able to contact, and be contacted by, services in accessible ways, for example via email or text message.
For deafblind people in particular the AIS, sets out that the needs of deafblind people vary, and any AIS example is illustrative and not exhaustive. In practice this mean that if your needs do not match an offered list of communication methods the AIS still asks for your needs to be met.
For deafblind manual users:
The AIS recognises that there are no qualifications routes for Deafblind Manual Interpreters, leading to a shortage of registered interpreters. This shortage can mean that meeting the full standard is not possible. So the AIS allows for deafblind people requiring deafblind manual, that communication support can be provided by someone who is unregistered but has the appropriate skills and experience.
In addition to meet this need the standard allows the service to ask you if any other alternative arrangements that could be made as a one off occurrence.
For adapted British Sign Language users:
As not all BSL interpreters have the skills to use Visual Frame or Hands-on BSL, and there are no separate registers for these skills the AIS requires that interpreters asked about their experiences and ability to meet this communication need. This should be confirmed before a booking is made, so that the no appointments have to be postponed.
Again depending on the communication need the AIS allows for deafblind people that it may be necessary to use communication support providers who are unregistered. Vitally the standard states the only way to know what a deafblind person needs is to ask them, and explains that many deafblind people will have preferred providers.
What does the AIS tell organisations to do?
Part of the AIS requires organisations to do five things, they must;
- Ask you if you have any information or communication needs, and ask how to meet these needs.
- Record those needs clearly, and in a set way.
- Highlight or flag your needs on your file or notes, so it is clear what your needs are and how to meet them.
- Share your information and communication needs with your consent to other providers of NHS and adult social care.
- Take steps to ensure that you receive information you can access and understand, and receive communication support if you need it.
In the future we hope this will mean that your needs are met on every occasion, but if they are not raise the issue of AIS with the service to make a difference to your own life and that of other deafblind people in your community.