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NHS Accessible Information Standard

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As an eye care provider, you need to make reasonable adjustments to avoid putting a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage when compared with a person who is not disabled [1]. This guidance explains what you can do locally to meet the information and communication of patients with a disability.


The Accessible Information Standard (the Standard) applies to all NHS providers in England - including GOS and other community eye health services. 

The Standard sets out a specific and consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing and meeting information and communication support needs. This includes five main steps: 

  1. Ask: always find out if a patient has any information or communication support needs relating to a learning disability, sensory loss or other impairment (e.g. stroke)
  2. Record: clearly and consistently record those needs in paper or electronic records
  3. Alert/Flag: ensure that the recorded needs are 'highly visible' whenever the individual's record is accessed
  4. Share: people's information and communication needs in communications about referral, discharge and handover
  5. Act: make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people receive information in a format they can understand.

Read the full form - NHS Accessible Information Standard guidance for community optical practices in England - which we, with our Optical Confederation partners, have produced with input from NHS England. It sets out what you need to do to comply fully with the Standard. The Quality in Optometry(QIO) contract compliance framework and NHS complaints guidance have also been updated to reflect these changes.  

The Standard does not normally apply to patients who do not speak English and require an interpreting service. 

Currently only Northern Ireland provides primary eye care providers with a free interpreting service for health service patients (not private patients). Learn more

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

There is currently no equivalent Standard in other parts of the UK but you can still use the guidance produced for NHS providers in England. 

If you work in Scotland, your patients can benefit from the British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service funded by the Scottish government. Learn more


Originally published: July 2016

Reviewed: January 2020

Next review date: January 2023


Info: This guidance was updated on 9 January 2020 as part of FODO's website upgrade. Minor amendments were made to the main body of text - including updating contact details - and the layout updated. No material changes. 

References and notes

[1] The Equality Act 2010 - England, Scotland and Wales. With a few exceptions the Equality Act 2010 is not part of the law of Northern Ireland. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as amended) remains in force in Northern Ireland.  Source:, accessed 24 November 2019