AIS- patient information

The Accessible Information Standard requires organisations to provide relevant information to patients in an accessible format, that is, a format which they can read (or otherwise access) and understand. The ‘judgement’ or ‘assessment’ about whether this requirement has been fulfilled lies with the individual patient themselves, i.e. can they read, access and understand the information? Can they ‘use’ the information as it was intended? If they can, then the organisation has met this aspect of its obligations under the Standard.

Relevant information includes ‘patient information leaflets’ about  treatments, procedures and conditions, and information (including advice sheets and booklets) which relate to self-care, consent to treatment, choice of treatment or provider and other matters with a direct relevance to the patient, their health/wellbeing and receipt of treatment, care or services. Relevant information does not include ‘corporate’ information, for example annual reports or accounts.

Accessible formats may include (but are not limited to):

  • Printed information in a larger font size – varying from point 14 to point 28 depending on individual need;
  • Information produced in an ‘easy read’ format. This is simpler language with understanding supported by images or pictures;
  • Information sent or available electronically via a website, email or text message, as alternatives to printed or handwritten information;
  • More ‘specialised’ formats such as audio, braille and British Sign Language video.

The Standard requires that patients receive information which they can read (or otherwise access) and understand. It does not stipulate that all organisations must offer every type of alternative or accessible format, rather that organisations must provide information in a format which is accessible to the patient as an individual.

It could be that staff provide information to the same individual in different formats, depending on the patient’s needs, the nature of their service and their facilities. For example, accessible information for a person who is blind may include that sent via email or text message, as well as that produced in braille or audio format.

The Standard does not require organisations to have ‘stocks’ of information in various alternative formats in anticipation of requests.

However, organisations should have an identified process for obtaining information in alternative formats if needed by a patient. In order to minimise (although never remove) the need for information to be produced in alternative formats, organisations should consider improving the accessibility of their ‘general’ information and documents, including templates, so that they are accessible to as many people as possible.

‘Top tips’ in this regard are included here: