Accessible Health for All project

About the Project

The pandemic has disproportionately affected disabled people and people with long term health conditions. Not only are they more likely to experience life threatening symptoms and die of the virus, but information and services during this period have not been made accessible to different impairment groups. This means that many disabled people have not had the necessary information they need to stay safe, and make informed decisions about their health during the pandemic.


From January to July 2021, Real undertook an outreach project –  together with their project partners deafPLUS, ICM Foundation,and Healthwatch – to ascertain what barriers different groups of disabled people had encountered in accessing and understanding Covid-19 information and services. The participants then co-produced recommendations as to how these services and information could be improved.


The outreach for this project was conducted using a variety of means to maximise inclusion and representation from different impairment groups. These included: 25 coproduction workshops, over 80 1-1 phone calls, and completed surveys from over 200 disabled residents. As part of the project, participants


The findings from this study are illuminating and clearly demonstrate disabled people had been left out of the Covid narrative. Firstly, the Accessible Information Standard – that aims to ensure disabled people are given information they understand – was not enforced. This has resulted in many disabled people not receiving vital safety information relating to Covid. Secondly, the Disability Equality Act 2010 has not been upheld. Lack of accessibility to Covid health services, including vaccine and test centres, has placed disabled people at a direct disadvantage of recovering equal healthcare, which contravenes the State’s duty ‘to make reasonable adjustments’.


Disabled Voices: Learning from Covid

On the 5th August, Real organised an online event with its project partners to share the findings from this engagement project. The event was attended by project participants, public health officials and other key figures working with disabled people in Tower Hamlets. The findings from this project are deeply concerning, and shine a light on the deep inequalities experienced by disabled people in accessing health and social care services. However, they also offer hope, as the key recommendations, which are co-produced with local disabled people provide us with the opportunity to implement structural changes to the way services are shaped and delivered.


As part of the event, we shared personal stories from 6 participants of the project – these testimonies provide a glimpse into some of the inequalities experienced by disabled people during the pandemic.

You can watch the testimonies from Beatrix, Mahendra and Faiz here

You can watch the testimonies from Lisa, Sam and a member of deafPLUS here

There will be a full report published later this year but until then, here is a link to the powerpoint we shared during the event which highlights some of the key issues affecting different impairment groups and the key recommendations submitted to public health.

Our partners have also produced a number of resources during this project:

Healthwatch: North East London Report – Voices of Disabled residents and Covid-19

ICM Foundation:

1. Easy read poster produced by CORE Projects trainees 

2. Group feedback video

3. Covid-19 Health messaging video: How to be safe when going out


Stage 2 of the project

Due to the success of this project, Real received funding to extend it for a further 6 months. This gives us the opportunity to build on the work we have already carried out, and ensure more local disabled residents are actively involved in helping us shape solutions to accessible health information and services. The new project remit includes:

  1. Disseminating and sharing the research findings and recommendations from stage 1
  2. Coproducing solutions to a number of the recommendations put forward in stage 1
  3. Co-creating a Deaf and Disability Awareness Training programme to be delivered to health professionals and frontline staff
  4. Developing a best practice guide to accessible communications and services
  5. Undertaking a feasibility study into the potential for an ‘open source accessible website’ for health information


Get involved

There are lots of different ways to get involved and support this project moving forward:

  1. If you are a disability organisation we haven’t worked with yet, help us run a co-production workshop with your members to ensure their voices are heard too
  2. If you are a health professional, help us escalate these issues to decision makers and integrate the recommendations into your own work places
  3. If you are a disabled person, or a person with a long term health condition, get in touch and join one of our workshops or have a 1-1 and help us create solutions to implement these important recommendations
  4. If you have any other ideas about how to support this project, please do also get in touch
Contact Hannah West on 


What to expect? 

Workshops: We want to hear about your experience during the pandemic in accessing health information and services. Did you find it accessible? How they could be improved for you? We also want to work with you to create new, improved health messages and services for other people with your disability. This will help to keep people safe during the pandemic and save lives

The workshops will take place online and are small, informal and confidential. If you are interested in joining a workshop please contact Hannah West at

1:1 Chats:1:1 chat’s will take the form of an informal chat online or over the phone. They will be a way for you to share your personal experience with us and the impact that it has had on you.

Community Champions: We would also like to engage some Real members to be Covid-19 community champions. This is an opportunity to get firsthand information from the council regarding Covid-19 by attending weekly meetings, and also support you to feedback this vital information to your community.

How to get in touch 

To get involved in a workshop, share your experience 1:1, or find out how your organisation can support Real’s work contact

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