All providers of NHS care or other publicly-funded adult social care must meet the Accessible Information Standard (AIS).
AIS applies to people who use a service and have information or communication needs because of a:
- sensory loss
It covers the needs of people who are deaf/Deaf, blind, or deafblind, or who have a learning disability. This includes interpretation or translation for people whose first language is British Sign Language. It does not cover these needs for other languages.
It can also be used to support people who have aphasia, autism or a mental health condition which affects their ability to communicate.
When appropriate, AIS also applies to their carers and parents.
You must meet the AIS for anyone who is publicly funded and who uses your services. This applies to all:
- adult social care services
- GP practices
- other services
unless no one using the service is publicly funded.
Websites are not covered by AIS.
Services which do not need to follow AIS:
- must still make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010
- may wish to use a similar approach when identifying and meeting people’s information needs
Five steps of AIS
How does the service assess for disability related information or communication needs? How does the service find out if people have any of these needs? How does the service plan how it will meet those needs?
How does the service record those identified needs clearly? What systems are in place as part of the assessment and care planning process?
How does the service highlight or flag people’s information and communication needs in their records? This could be in paper or electronic records. The chosen method must make it possible for all staff to quickly and easily be aware of (and work to meet) those needs.
Services sometimes need to share details of people’s information and communication needs with other health and social care services. This means that other services can also respond to the person's information and communication needs.
How does the service do this (when they have consent to do so)?
How does the service make sure it meets people’s needs? How does the service make sure that people receive information which they can access and understand? How does the service arrange communication support if people need it?
For example, patients and people using a service should:
- be able to contact (and be contacted by) services in accessible ways, such as via email, text message or Text Relay
- receive information and correspondence in formats they can read and understand. This could be, for example, in audio, braille, easy read or large print
- be supported by a communication professional at appointments if needed to support conversation. This could be a British Sign Language interpreter
- get support from health and care staff and organisations to communicate. This could include help to lip-read or use a hearing aid
Monitoring and inspection
During inspections, we will look at these five steps by talking to staff and people using the service.
Wherever possible, our inspectors will review the assessment and care plan of at least one person using the service who is affected by AIS. These will be selected as part of our usual inspection evidence-gathering.
In addition to inspections, we will also ask you how you are meeting AIS through annual Provider Information Requests/Collections.
Adult social care
In adult social care reports, AIS findings will be covered under Responsive.
Adult social care ratings characteristics explicitly include AIS under R1 - How do people receive personalised care that is responsive to their needs?
In hospital reports, AIS findings will be under Responsive. The report subheadings may vary slightly between acute, mental health, community and ambulance trusts. The placement of AIS is laid out in R1.4 of all the:
Primary medical and dental services
In primary medical and dental services, we will look at how a practice is meeting AIS under R1.4 of person-centred care (healthcare services). In general practice, if the findings relate to people with a learning disability, AIS may also be part of the population group section under “people whose circumstances make them vulnerable”.