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Accessible information standard

Making health and social care information accessible

On 24 June 2015, the new ‘accessible information standard’ was approved by the standardisation committee for care information (SCCI). The standard became a legal requirement from 1 August 2016 onwards for all organisations that provide NHS care and, or publicly funded adult social care.

The standard was formally known as DCB1605 accessible information and is made up of a specification and implementation guidance. A post-implementation review (opens in a new window) was carried out in August 2017 and amendments were made to both. There is information available about the specific changes that were made to the specification (opens in a new window) and implementation guidance (opens in a new window). There are alternative formats (opens in a new window) of the review available.


The standard ensures that the information and communication support needs are met for people with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. The standard sets out a specific, consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing and meeting the information and communication support needs of patients, people that use our services and their parents and carers.

The specification and implementation guidance are available:

NHS England in partnership with the charity Sense (opens in a new window), have put together a short animated video (YouTube video opens in a new window) to explain the basic principles of the Standard and the duties that are part of it. The video includes British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation and subtitles.

If you would like information about the accessible information standard in an alternative format such as braille, please contact or telephone 0300 311 2233.

As part of the standard, people should be provided with any communication support that they need such as support from a BSL interpreter, deafblind manual interpreter or an advocate. Our interpreters policy details the arrangements in place to allow the trust to fulfil its legal and moral obligations in relation to the provision of and access to trained interpreters for people whose preferred language is not English.

What does the accessible information standard tell organisations to do?

As part of the accessible information standard, organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must follow these five steps. They must:

  • identify the information and, or communication needs of patients and people that use the services by proactively and routinely asking them about their needs
  • record a person’s information and, or communication needs and information on how to meet them, clear actions such as providing information in a different format should be recorded, not the persons disability
  • flag a person’s information and, or communication needs. In electronic systems add a flag or alert to the person’s record to trigger an automatic response and, or prompt colleagues to take action
  • share a person’s information and, or communication needs only when and if appropriate and within existing data sharing and information governance protocols
  • meet a person’s information and, or communication needs by ensuring individuals can contact and communicate with the service effectively and receive information that they are able to read and understand

Who must follow the accessible information standard?

All organisations that provide NHS or publicly funded adult social care must follow the standard. This includes NHS trusts, foundation trusts and GP practices. Organisations that commission (pay for and make decisions about) NHS and adult social care services must also make sure that they support the standard.

Why must organisations follow the Standard?

Organisations must follow the standard by law. This is explained in section 250 of the health and social care act 2012 (opens in a new window).

More information

There is more information about the accessible information standard including different formats on the NHS England (opens in a new window) website.

For more information and resources you can visit charities including:

Page last reviewed: May 17, 2024
Next review due: May 17, 2025

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