Since the Disability Discrimination Act 1985 and Equality Act 2010, the NHS should have been making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for deaf patients. However, it has always been unclear what might be considered ‘reasonable’.
NHS England has helped clarify that by creating the Accessible Information Standard.
It should be remembered that staff also have a ‘communication need’ – the interpreter is for the member of staff and the Deaf person. Poor communication leads to medical error.
There are five main parts to the Accessible Information Standard:
Ask: Staff must ask patients whether they have a communication need and how that need can be met. This should cover different situations where information is exchanged, for instance contacting a service and providing results may need to be available via text or email, or a BSL interpreter may need to be booked for consultations.
Record: A patient’s needs should be clearly recorded in the patient record using coding that is consistent and understood by all. Suitable codes are now available in most electronic systems.
Alert/Flag: An alert or flag should be used on a patient’s file so that all staff accessing the file are aware of their communication needs. Ideally, the alert will also give practical details as to how staff can meet those needs.
Share: Information about communication needs should be shared with other health and social care services. For instance, referrals should include details of communication needs.
Act/Meet: Services need to make sure information is accessible and that people get the communication support they need.
Click on the green buttons below to see more information in BSL and English.