Skip to main content

Making our information easy to understand

We are committed to making sure that the information we share is in plain English, easy to understand, open and honest.

We know that:

  • Around 98,000 people in Somerset have a sensory loss, that is a hearing or visual impairment or both. That’s about 18% of the population
  • By 2020 it is predicted there will be around 13,000 people aged 18 or over in Somerset with moderate or severe visual impairment and around 80,000 with a moderate, severe or profound hearing impairment. Many will have some form of both visual and hearing impairment
  • Around 230 pupils at state schools in Somerset have Special Educational Needs (SEN) where sensory loss is a primary need
  • Around 2,036 people aged 18 in Somerset have a moderate to severe learning disability. That’s about 0.3% of the population
  • Around 2.6% of the Somerset population have a main language other than English. Of these, around 2,382 say they cannot speak English well and 410 cannot speak English at all
  • We know that if people don’t speak English, or struggle to speak English, they are more likely to be unable to read English
  • There are an estimated 3,404 households in Somerset for which no household member has English as their main language.

We provide key information in other languages on request. We aim to make sure that people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss are provided with information that they can easily read or understand with support so they can communicate effectively with us. This may include large print, braille or using a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter as well as easy read and audio files.

For more information or to ask for an alternative format please email us at or call 01935 384022

When people apply to volunteer as a People Champion, we:

  • ask them if they have any information or communication needs and find out how to meet their needs.
  • record those needs clearly and in a standard format on our People Champion database.
  • highlight this on our database with a ‘flag’ so it is clear that the person has information or communication needs and how those needs should be met.
  • where we have consent to do so, we share information about people’s information and communication needs with other providers of NHS and adult social care.
  • take steps to make sure that people receive information which they can access and understand, and receive communication support if they need it.

Accessible Information Standard

We have also adopted the NHS Accessible Information Standard (AIS).  The AIS is a requirement of all Trusts and other providers of NHS services to patients to ensure not only that all information is accessible to people with disabilities, but also that when, for example, a hospital, is told of a person’s access needs, that they only need tell them once.  The AIS sets out how, why and when this information should be stored and shared so that there is a seamless movement through the hospital for that individual.

We have decided to optionally adopt the spirit of this standard to ensure that members of the public can expect similar when dealing with us.  However, we do not routinely hold information about the people using Somerset’s health services so we cannot implement this as fully as an NHS Trust or GP practice.  However, our Continuing Health Care team have a process to ensure that access needs are captured and recorded.  Also, we have recently updated the system used to capture queries and complaints to ensure that we are able to record the needs of members of the public.  

We have an Accessible Information Standard working group which was formed in 2019.  This group has elected to widen the scope of the AIS to include other needs in addition to those related to a disability.  For example, we will keep information about other spoken language needs.  In fact, anything someone thinks would be useful information for us to know (and is willing for us to know) can be recorded.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the Accessible Information Standard working group, you can sign up following the People Champion guidance above.