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Accessible Information Standard

Find out about the legal requirements of the Standard, how to comply with it, and what to do if your communication needs aren’t met

In England, all providers of NHS or publicly funded adult social care services must meet the legal requirements of NHS England’s Accessible Information Standard.

The Standard sets out clear guidance on what you must do to make your services accessible to people with disabilities and sensory loss. This includes the needs of parents, guardians or carers.

The Standard establishes a consistent approach to make sure people with disabilities and sensory loss really understand the information you give them – and can participate fully in discussions about their treatment and care.

To meet the legal requirements of the Standard, you must:


Ask people with a disability and/or sensory loss if they need help to be contacted, to communicate well, and to understand written information.


You must record individuals’ communication and information needs in a standardised way.


These details, while confidential, must be highly visible or linked to an electronic alert to prompt your staff to take action.


You must share an individual’s communication and information needs with other services as part of a routine referral, or discharge and handover process, in line with data protection requirements.


People with disabilities and sensory loss must be able to contact your services when they need to, communicate well during appointments and understand information they’re given.

How to comply with the Standard

Compliance with the Accessible Information Standard is a legal requirement for all providers of NHS and adult social care under section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has also announced that they will look at how NHS and adult social care services are implementing the Standard as part of their inspection work.

From October 2017, all published CQC inspection reports will include information on how NHS and adult social care services are applying the Standard.

We’ve put together some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re meeting the requirements of the Standard – and to make sure your services are accessible for people with hearing loss:

To find out more about the Accessible Information Standard, visit the NHS England website.

What to do if your communication needs aren’t met

If an NHS health or social care provider (such as your GP) does not meet these requirements, you have the right to complain. You will need to contact the service directly and go through their formal complaints procedure. Once you have completed their complaints process and have received their final response, you can complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

If you’re not sure how to submit a complaint, we recommend you contact your local Healthwatch to find out how to get help to make your complaint.

NHS England has more information on the complaints process and alternative advocacy services.

Page last updated: 26 September 2023

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