Access to healthcare information low among sight loss patients
Author: Andrew McClean
Blind and partially-sighted people are struggling to receive healthcare information in accessible formats, according to new research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland.
The charity has called for Scotland’s 14 health boards to ensure policies are implemented to increase access and introduce training for healthcare staff on communicating with sight loss patients.
Report author Laura Jones highlighted that patients who do not receive healthcare information in accessible formats are at risk of missing treatment or being misinformed about their needs.
‘The NHS puts great emphasis on the cost, in money and time, of missed appointments to over-burdened clinics. So, giving patients accessible information makes sense. More worryingly, as many sight loss conditions are progressive, any delays in treatment could mean unnecessary deterioration in sight,’ she said.
The report also covers topics such as breaches of patient confidentiality when patients rely on carers and how some patients do not want to be considered a burden for requesting information in a different format.
RNIB Scotland noted that healthcare information is increasingly being communicated online but levels of digital uptake are low among people with disabilities.
Jones explained: ‘Visual barriers such as inconsistent font-sizes prevent blind and partially sighted people from accessing information with ease. And while there have been advances in screen-reading software, such supportive technology can be expensive.’
The report was launched on February 17 in Glasgow by Stuart McMillan MSP, chair of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on visual impairment.