SignHealth are working closely with the NHS to improve access to information for Deaf people.
Sarah Marsay, Public Engagement Account Manager at NHS England, explains how the project is evolving.[clear] “Hi, my name’s Sarah Marsay. I’m part of the public voice team at NHS England. The major project I’m currently working on is developing a new accessible Information Standard.
The ultimate aim of the accessible Information Standard is that people receive information in an accessible format for them and any communication support they need when using NHS or adult social care services.
[clear] The standard will also provide direction about steps which should be taken so that people have their needs met.
[clear] This would include providing information in a different format and arranging professional communication support, such as from a BSL interpreter or speech-to-text-reporter.
Although we at NHS England are taking forward the project to develop the accessible information standard, we know that we are not the experts!
[clear] We understand that we need to work with people who need information in different formats, people who use BSL or read braille for example, and groups and organisations with expertise in producing or promoting accessible information and communication. It is also important for us to work with NHS and adult social care organisations and service providers.
[clear] We are currently part-way through a consultation on the draft standard. The consultation runs until 9th November, and we really want as many people as possible to share their views with us. Visit signhealth.org.uk for all the details in BSL.
[clear] Before we started to write the draft standard we asked for views, opinions and suggestions from a wide range of individuals and groups during an engagement period over last winter. Over 1,200 people took part, either through a survey or by coming to a workshop. This included patients, service users, carers, health and social care professionals and organisations, voluntary organisations and patient groups.
[clear] We think that the engagement phase was a real success in terms of showing that barriers to participation can be overcome, and we are determined to do our best to make the consultation on the draft standard as accessible as possible too.
[clear] This means that the consultation document and the survey are available online and in paper copies, in braille, large print, easy read, audio, and in BSL. With the exception of Braille, all of the alternative formats are available for people to view, listen to or download directly from our website www.england.nhs.uk/accessibleinfo and we can send our hard copies, CDs or DVDs on request.
[clear] We also recognise that a survey is not always the best way of understanding people’s views, so we’ve worked with some voluntary organisations to jointly host workshops or discussion events where people can share their views.
[clear] SignHealth hosted two workshop events on 22nd September in Bristol, which enabled Deaf people to comment on the draft accessible information standard and input into the consultation directly.
[clear] I came along to the afternoon session and was able to get people’s feedback first-hand, which I always find is more powerful. It was the first time I had presented at an event that was run in BSL with English interpretation (rather than vice versa), and it was a really enlightening experience. I have lots of things to work on to improve my technique for next time!
[clear] In particular, I found the comments made around use of VRI, the availability of BSL information online, turnaround times for requesting a BSL interpreter or BSL information and about how to encourage compliance with the standard really useful.
[clear] Thank you to everyone who attended the SignHealth workshops, and to those who made the events possible. If you weren’t able to attend, please make sure you have your say before 9th November, as everyone’s views count. Information on how to do this is on the SignHealth website under ‘Information Standard: Deaf People have Two Months to give Feedback about NHS Project’.”
Image Credit: Ben K Adam