Healthwatch Darlington Sensory Impairment Report 2022

By law, all publicly funded health & care care providers must fully comply with the Accessible Information Standard (AIS) which requires services to meet the information & communication needs of people with a learning disability or sensory impairment
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As a follow up to our Digital Inclusion Report in June 2021 and our involvement in the current Healthwatch England campaign to promote the Accessible Information Standard, we wanted to understand how residents of Darlington who had sensory impairment were impacted when accessing health and care services.

The experiences of those who shared their views with us were mixed. Whilst we welcome the services who have protocols in place to accommodate those with a sensory impairment, it is disappointing that the picture is not consistent.

The lack of adoption which we see in Darlington, of the Accessible Information Standard, is echoed nationwide, as highlighted by Healthwatch England’s campaign.

The Accessible Information Standard is a legal requirement for all services providing NHS care or adult social care and commits those organisations to:

  • Asking people if they have any information or communication needs and finding out how to meet their needs.
  • Recording those needs clearly and in a set way.
  • Highlighting or flagging the person’s file or notes so it is clear that they have information or communication needs and how to meet those needs.
  • Sharing information about people’s information and communication needs with other providers of NHS and adult social care when they have consent or permission to do so.

Adoption and adherence to the Accessible Information Standard would resolve concerns experienced by those who completed our survey and many others who use health and care services in Darlington.

Healthwatch Darlington urges all health and care providers to comply with their legal obligations.


  1. Darlington Primary Care Network to provide an update on its review of the findings and recommendations of Healthwatch Darlington’s Digital Inclusion Report: June 2021. The recommendations in that report remain valid, and implementation of them will support future ease of access to services for those with a sensory impairment. 
  2. All health and care services supporting residents of Darlington to provide a consistent service by adopting the Accessible Information Standard (AIS), which is a legal requirement for all organisations that provide NHS care or adult social care. Adoption of the AIS principles will address all concerns highlighted by the findings in this report. Appendix two provides a summary of the AIS principles.
  3. Health and care services to promote the principles of the AIS in its communications and health and care venues.

Read our full report including responses from NHS Commissioners and Providers of local services in Darlington

HWD Sensory Impairment Report 2022

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Youthwatch Darlington interview NSPCC and Kooth for this year's Children's Mental Health Week 2021.