Accessible Information on Coronavirus

Information and resources for disabled people during Coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus. Some people are more vulnerable to this illness than others, and this includes people with complex health conditions and disabilities. It is important that everyone can access information about COVID-19 so they know how to be safe and look after themselves if they are unwell.

The symptoms of Coronavirus / COVID-19 are

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours

If you are worried about your symptoms or anyone else in your household please use the 111 website, if this is not accessible to you, you can call 111 or use the 24/7 British Sign Language Interpreter 111 service.

Sign Health have also launched BSL Health Access. This an on demand video relay remote interpreting service for healthcare services where access to in-person BSL interpretation isn't available.

  • Are you in hospital with no BSL communication access? You can use this service to communicate with the health care professionals via video.
  • Do you need to make an appointment with your GP? You can use this service to call them.
  • Do you need to organise and collect your prescription? You can call your Pharmacist using this service.

The service is free and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Government and NHS guidance

You can find the most up to date key information about Coronavirus / COVID-19 on the NHS website.

The latest Government guidance about Coronavirus / COVID-19, including what to do if someone in your household is unwell, what social distancing means and general advice, is on the Government website.

Government guidance on face coverings

Face masks must now be worn in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and public transport. However, some people are exempt from the new rules, including some disabled people, such as those with breathing difficulties. Find out more information on who is exempt.

For information on when to wear a face covering and exemption cards and badges, visit the Government website.

Government guidance for people with complex disabilities, autism and learning disabilities

The Government has provided additional guidance about individuals who have complex underlying health conditions and are required to self-isolate for 12 weeks. There have been some recent changes to the advice about the adjustment of rules about exercise for people who are autistic and or have a learning disability.

The Institute of Social Care Excellence has produced guidance for individuals who are autistic and or have a learning disability, their families, social care professionals and carer workers, including:

  • Key resources like hospital passports & Easy Read information about visiting hospital
  • Tips for contingency care planning
  • Advice for supporting people to understand COVID-19

Access the Government guidance. 

Support for disabled children, young people and their families

The Government has put together key information and resources for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. This includes support for home schooling.

The Disabled Children’s Partnership, of which Sense is a member, has collected resources on this webpage from many different charities and organisation to support disabled children and their families.

Sense has online play toolkits, videos and resources for children who are deafblind and have complex disabilities to keep active and engaged at home.

From the beginning of August the majority of children who have been previously identified as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ will no longer need to shield.

Children should continue to shield until 31 July. From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will be paused so clinically vulnerable people of all ages will no longer need to be advised to shield.

The latest evidence shows that risks to children are low and only those with a certain medical conditions are likely to be advised to shield if shielding needs to be reintroduced in the future. Children who are removed will not be advised to shield again if government guidance on shielding is changed in the future.

Children will only be removed from the shielded patient list by their GP or specialist doctor following consultation with the child and their family. Specialists and GPs will be asked to contact children and their families to discuss this over the summer. Families do not need to take any immediate action. We expect these consultations to happen over the summer.

Find out more information about shielding on the Government website.

Accessible information about Coronavirus 

There is a lot of new information every day in the news about Coronavirus and it can be confusing. This section collects together accessible information about COVID-19 for people who require alternative formats and accessible resources.

For people who have a learning disability

We have put together some links to resources that explain the situation in clear short sentences. This might be helpful if you or someone in your family has a learning disability.

Learning Disability England have put together the important information about Coronavirus / COVID-19 and have posters, Easy Read guides and key links which will be regularly updated.

Our colleagues at Mencap have also produced an Easy Read guide to Coronavirus. This guide explains all about Coronavirus / COVID-19 in clear short sentences with pictures to explain the important information.  

British Sign Language

Sign Health has produced videos with information about Coronavirus / COVID-19 in British Sign Language.

There is now a BSL version of the letter which the Prime Minister sent to all households about Coronavirus.

The daily press conference from the Prime Minister should now have a British Sign Language interpreter on the BBC news, but if you miss this broadcast Sign Health are producing a daily update in British Sign Language on their website.

Advice from other organisations for Disabled people and their families  

Support for visually impaired people

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) have put together key information for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Information for autistic people and families

The National Autistic Society have created an online resource hub which contains information for autistic people and their families.

Support for mental health and well-being

All of the news and information about coronavirus can be overwhelming. It is important to look after everyone’s mental health as well as physical health.

Our colleagues at Mind have put together some really good resources on mental health. This includes a checklist about ways to avoid stress and stay healthy.

You can find the resources on their website.

Support for Carers 

Carers UK have written some resources specifically aimed at Carers, which you can find on their website.

Citizen's Advice have put together a page with information on Coronavirus and paying rent, bills and benefits.

Information for health and social care staff

We know that these are challenging times but there are important steps to take to ensure that your care and treatment is still as accessible as possible for disabled people.  We’ve worked with a number of other disability charities to pull together these top tips for things to consider in health and care services in these times.