NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is “talking” directly to the blind and partially sighted community thanks to its “Health News” newspaper now appearing in a new format.
Every issue of the 12 page tabloid newspaper will now be adapted for use with the audio software JAWS when it is placed on NHSGGC’s website… effectively creating a “talking newspaper” accessed online.
It is the latest development in the Board’s drive to make information about health services available to everyone, regardless of sight restrictions or their reading abilities.
The Board’s Health News newspaper is already inserted inside editions of The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Times and tackles key issues such as: how best to access health services: learn more about mental health conditions and how best to seek help: promote addiction services and key campaigns to improve health.
And the move has the backing of Big Brother’s Mikey Hughes, a producer and journalist with Insight Radio, the station for blind and partially sighted listeners.
Mikey said: “I use the Internet every day, via the specialist software that talks to me. It works fine, when websites are designed correctly, but the majority have not got blind or partially sighted people in mind.
“I am pleased that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have made it easier for visually impaired people to access health information, and welcome their commitment to making health information accessible for blind and partially sighted people".
The new format has been road tested by some members of the target audience, and one person who took part commented:
“It reads very well, all by itself, with no need to know additional keystrokes, so as far as I am concerned its a very readable and accessible document.”
Ally McLaws, Health Board Communications Director, said: “We fundamentally believe that everyone should have equal access to health services and our website is already piloting a project to trial BSL (British Sign Language). We have also introduced video clips to the website showing lead public health consultants, for example, talking out about healthcare acquired infections such as D & V.
“ With so many people accessing information from our website on www.nhsggc.org.uk it’s crucial that we make that information as available as possible to users – including the thousands of partially sighted, blind or those with problems reading and understanding the printed word.
“We already make huge efforts with translators and have always done a lot in clinical settings for the deaf and the blind but now we are mainstreaming this into our key communication tools such as Health News which is becoming a major public information route for us and has a circulation of more than 400,000 copies.”
A spokesperson for the Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland said: "We applaud the move by Scotland's biggest health board to make news and information more readily available to the thousands of blind and partially sighted people in their area.
"Given that people with sight problems are among those groups most likely to rely on NHS services so it is especially good news that
'Health News' will be more accessible to JAWS users. It's a very welcome move to make services more inclusive."
To access your online copy of “Health News” log onto www.nhsggc.org.uk.
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.