The NHS in the UK recently launched a consultation into the proposed ‘Accessible Information Standard’ which recommends measures to meet patients’ communication needs, including the provision of Speech to Text. While I welcome these improvements — and boy, do we need them — it does beg a question as to why this is felt necessary in addition to the Equality Act 2010. As Laura Ringham wrote, way back in 2012:
There is a clear legal foundation for providing access to healthcare services for people with hearing loss. The Equality Act 2010 requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to make their service accessible for people who are disabled, and states that they must anticipate and promote these adjustments rather than make them on a responsive basis.
Ringham L, 2012, Access All Areas? A report into the experiences of people with hearing loss when accessing healthcare, Action on Hearing Loss
So, why is it that the Health Service is so behind in terms of making reasonable adjustments so that patients can understand what is being said to them during examinations and consultations? And, where are the legal challenges to the shoddy status quo?