by Paul Stemman, SignHealth’s head of Policies and Campaigns.
I have just finished reading the Accessible Information Standard (AIS) and all the documents that go with it. It is not the most exciting thing I have ever read — but it might be one of the most important.
Every deaf person should know about it.
You may remember the Disability Discrmination Act 1995, and the Equality Act 2010. Both these Acts said that service providers had to make “reasonable adjustments”, so that deaf people could get equal access.
access is still poor
The new Accessible Information Standard (AIS) does not necessarily mean the NHS now has to do more for deaf people. The Standard makes it really clear what the NHS should be doing under the DDA and EA. And it’s important to remember that the Standard is only about access to information. But it’s a great start. And the NHS (and adult social care) must meet the Standard. It is not optional.
SignHealth’s work on the standard
We have been working with NHS England to make the Standard as strong as it can be.We have held consultation events so that Deaf people can find out about the Standard and give their views in BSL. We also highlighted parts of the Standard which we thought needed to be improved. We think NHS England has done a great job.
So, is that it? Can we relax now?
Not just yet.
The NHS has until July 2016 to get ready for the Standard. We will be helping them as much as we can. The danger is that the NHS will hope nobody notices the Standard, nobody complains, and they can carry on as before. If this happens from the start, the Standard might become like the DDA and EA – a great idea but not something that makes any difference.
That’s why all deaf people should be interested in the Standard. If we stand together we can make sure the NHS does take notice. If they try to avoid the Standard we will be there to remind them what they have to do.
That’s why we have launched the Healthier Together campaign. It will:
- give deaf people the latest information on what is happening;
- tell everyone about progress in different parts of the country;
- provide useful resources you can download;
- and let people share their experiences.
Most importantly, we can make sure the NHS knows there are plenty of deaf people out there who are watching them very carefully!
So, why not join our healthier together campaign? Let them know you’re watching.