Accessible Information Standard


Organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must do five things:

Ask people about their communication needs

Record those needs in a set way

Highlight the person’s needs on their file and how these needs are to be met

Share information about a person’s needs with other providers, subject to consent

Provide  information in an accessible way

From 31 July 2016, all organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must follow the Accessible Information Standard by law.

This includes NHS trusts, foundation trusts and GP practices as well as organisations that pay for and make decisions about NHS and adult social care services such as CCGs and Local Authorities.

The Accessible Information Standard aims to make sure that disabled people have access to information that they can understand and any communication support they might need.

The standard tells organisations how to make information accessible to patients, service users and their carers or parents. This includes making sure that people get information in different formats if they need it, such as large print, braille, easy read or via email.

The standard also tells organisations how to support people’s communication needs e.g. by offering support from a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, deafblind manual interpreter or an advocate.

What have we been doing locally in B&NES?

The following organisations use Language Empire as the sole provider for all their interpreting and translation requirements including accessible formats. If you work for one of these organisations, click here to find out how to access this service.

  • Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
  • Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Bath & North East Somerset Council
  • Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust
  • Virgin Care

If your organisation is not listed above we have produced an information sheet for providers as well as an Accessible Formats Directory to help you source communication support for your patients or service users.

Sharing best practice

The B&NES Health & Wellbeing Network held a meeting about the Accessible Information Standard on 21 April 2016 which was well attended by a variety of providers (read the minutes).

We plan to hold a further event in the Autumn and further details will be published here when they are available.

The NHS England website contains lots of information about the standard including the detailed specification and an e-learning module which provides a basic overview of the standard.

The page also contains a range of useful information sheets on identifying communication needs and implementation advice:

The Patient Information Forum, supported by NHS England, has also launched a new online group to help organisations to keep up to date with NHS England guidance, support and events, share accessible information resources and guidance, take part in discussions and access best practice support on accessible information.

For CCG, Council, Sirona, AWP and RUH employees only

Language Empire Ltd is the sole provider of translation, interpretation and British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation services. The framework contract works on a pay-as-you-go basis with each organisation paying for their own usage.

Urgent Requests

If your request is urgent (i.e. less than 24 hours) or you need to access a service immediately please telephone 0845 370 2002.

Telephone Interpreting

For telephone interpreting, the number is 0808 101 7638.

Face to face interpreters, BSL interpreters or alternative formats

These can be requested through the Language Empire website. There is a red box on the right hand side of the home page for customer login. Each organisation will have individual login details and payment codes which can be accessed via their intranet sites.

Translation of documents containing personal data

These can only be shared with Language Empire via GlobalSCAPE. Please use the translated document request template to relay the request to Language Empire. Language Empire will respond and quote a price.

Translation of documents containing no personal data (e.g. a generic leaflet)

Complete the translated document request template and email this to Language Empire will respond with a quote.

Further Guidance

The Language Empire website contains some useful guidance about who will require different types of communication support and the following ‘how to’ guides:

The BMA website has a useful FAQ for practices. They have also produced a report called Focus on the Accessible Information Standard

Wessex LMC have published a range of helpful advice and resources. 

St James’s Surgery have kindly shared their AIS policy for other practices to refer to and copy as required.

Practice Index have produced a ten step guide to implementing the standard.

Action on Hearing Loss has produced guidance for GPs on making services accessible to people with hearing loss.

Medeconomics have published an article titled “Meeting patients communication needs“.

PSNC and Pharmacy Voice published a briefing for pharmacists in April

The CCG and the Council have produced an Accessible Formats Directory which suggests a range of organisations that can support you to meet the standard.

It is not an exhaustive list and inclusion within the directory should not be regarded as a recommendation.

If you know of a service which could be included in the directory or have produced some useful resources you are happy to share on this page then please contact 

AWP, CCG, Council, RUH and Virgin Care employees should use Language Empire as the sole provider of translation, interpretation and British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation services. Click here for more details.

A number of organisations and charities have produced guidance on how to make information accessible:

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

The RNIB have produced an FAQ page for understanding the needs of blind and partially sighted people.

Action on Hearing Loss
Easy read information

The B&NES CIC has produced a very helpful step-by-step guide to producing easy read material.

There are also several websites that have free to download material: