Further Information

For further information on the Accessibility Information Standard, download the full guidance document below, or visit: www.hscic.gov.uk/isce/publication/scci1605

Picture of Staff member along side a quote

“I think the Accessible Information Standard is very welcome because it makes things far more equitable for the diverse range of patients who come into contact with NHS services.”


Michelle Johnson
Head of Patient & Public Engagement, Brent CCG

People with multiple/complex needs

The AIS ensures that people with information and/or communication needs have their needs addressed by providers of health and/or adult social care services. This could be achieved by using alternative formats (such as braille, email and British Sign Language) or by using other generic adjustments (such as facing someone to help them to lip-read).

Many people with a learning disability and some people with other communication needs have a ‘communication passport’, ‘communication book’, ‘hospital passport’ or similar document which includes a detailed record of their communication needs and preferences – this can be a very useful source of information and advice where available (and staff would be advised to proactively ask individuals if they have such a document where communication difficulties are experienced.)


Use of email and text message

For people with an impairment or sensory loss, email is a highly effective, quick and economical communication format or contact method.

The service user’s own assistive technology or software, for example a ‘screen reader,’ helps convert text to speech or a refreshable braille display. Depending on the software or assistive technology, a blind person or one with visual loss may require information is emailed in one or more formats, such as plain text (with or without attachments), HTML, and Word or PDF format attachments.

Organisations should refer to ISB 1596 Secure Email. The Specification for ISB 1596 which states that, “The Caldicott 2 review noted that emails should not be used to communicate with patients as they are not secure. The review report stated: “The Review Panel concludes that personal confidential data can be shared with individuals via email when the individual has explicitly consented and they have been informed of any potential risk.” Health and care organisations should develop guidelines for service providers to support and encourage the use of email where the service user has consented to this.

Take the Test

Accessible Information
Standard Module

There are 20 questions with multiple choice answers - your challenge is to get 20 out of 20!

Click here to access


Tips for printed communication

Use a minimum font size of 12 point, preferably 14 (which is readable by a significantly greater number of people)

  • Use a clear, uncluttered and sans serif font such as Arial
  • Align text to the left margin and avoid ‘justifying’ text
  • Ensure plenty of ‘white space’ on documents, especially between sections. Avoid ‘squashing’ text onto a page and, if possible, include a double-space between paragraphs
  • Print on matt, not gloss paper
  • Use page numbers
  • If printing double-sided ensure that the paper is of sufficient thickness to avoid text showing through from the other side
  • Correctly format Word documents and PDFs using styles and accessibility functions. Ensure a correct and consistent heading structure, and that the cursor can move throughout all text
  • Use descriptions (‘alt. text’) to explain diagrams or photographs
  • Consider making all ‘standard’ printed letters / documents ‘easier to read’ – using Plain English, highlighting important information, and supporting text with diagrams, images or photographs
  • Keep track of the electronic originals of documents you print out so you can re-print in larger font or convert to an alternative format when required.

Services should be mindful of their responsibilities to ensure that individuals’ rights are met, including rights to privacy and confidentiality, to accept or refuse treatment, to information to support choice, and to make choices about care and treatment, as outlined in the NHS Constitution.

However, this also states that, “NHS services must reflect, and should be co-ordinated around and tailored to, the needs and preferences of patients, their families and their carers. Patients, with their families and carers, where appropriate, will be involved in, and consulted on, all decisions about their care and treatment.”

By 31 July 2016 organisations MUST be fully compliant with all aspects of the Accessible Information Standard. This is explained in Section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.


Read the full AIS guidance here