Equal access to healthcare

The importance of accessible healthcare services for people who are deafblind

Cover of report - Equal access to healthcare: the importance of accessible healthcare services for people who are deafblind

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We will all use healthcare services at some point in our lives.

There are 358,000 people in the UK who have a sight and hearing impairment and are therefore described as ‘deafblind’.

Deafblindness can create difficulties with accessing information, communication and mobility – all of which can impact on how someone accesses a healthcare service.

There are many steps that healthcare providers could (and do) take to make their services more accessible – including assessing the physical environment, using good communication tactics, and making their documents accessible.

These are often low cost, sometimes free, and high in benefit. Unfortunately these are not consistently implemented and lead to breakdowns of communication and trust between people who are deafblind and healthcare services.

Our Equal Access to Healthcare report outlines the personal experiences that people who are deafblind have faced when accessing healthcare; from the positives to the negatives.

It also includes examples of best practice, hints and tips on accessible healthcare and information on the new Accessible Information Standard.

Whilst a number of barriers and challenges were highlighted, the key message that came through was that if healthcare services were accessible, people who are deafblind would be able to be active, independent participants in their own health and care.

Key findings

  • One in two (56 per cent) deafblind people have left a GP appointment having not understood what had been discussed. Many reported needing to rely on a friend or family member to answer their questions or provide support and the lack of independence that this brought.

  • More than three quarters (85 per cent) of deafblind people don’t get information about their healthcare appointments or follow up correspondence in a format that they can access.  Most reported that they needed to rely on someone else to read their letters for them so that they could know what was contained in them.

Read the report

Download Equal Access to Healthcare report (PDF, 1.5mb)

Download the text-only Equal Access to Healthcare report (Word, 135kb)

View the Equal Access to Healthcare report in online magazine format (Issuu)

First published: Wednesday 27 July 2016
Updated: Thursday 22 June 2017