• Laura May

What is Easy Read?

This week is Learning Disability Week and the charity Mencap are sharing the importance of friendships during lockdown. Loneliness and social isolation affect many people who live with a learning disability, so it is great to see friendships being celebrated in this way. You can visit the Mencap website to find out more about #LDWeek2020.

However, this blog is not about friendships...it is about Easy Read!

Easy Read is a way of making written information easier to understand. Documents have short, simple sentences and pictures accompany each sentence.

Easy Read is a format that is really useful for people living with learning disabilities or anyone who struggles to process written information. So, why bother creating Easy Read versions of your reports or literature? According to the NHS around 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability. That's a lot of people to miss out if you want to share your messaging far and wide.

So, what are the basic principles of Easy Read documents? The Department of Health has a list of 'rules' which I think are very useful in their basic guidelines document...

  1. Each idea needs both words and pictures – both pictures and words are important.

  2. Pictures and words go next to each other – this helps more people to understand the information.

  3. Make sure that it is clear which pictures support which bits of text.

  4. Pictures must be easy to understand.

  5. Pictures should go on the left.

  6. Pictures can be drawings, photographs or other images.

  7. Make sure that pictures are as big as possible.

  8. Words must be easy to understand.

  9. If you use difficult words, say what they mean using easy words.

  10. Words go on the right.

  11. Words must be written clearly – a font like Arial is good.

  12. Words must be big – a font size of at least 14 point is good.

  13. Each sentence must be short as possible – more than 15 words is harder to read.

  14. Each document must be short – more than 20 pages is too long.

A great website to check out is Photosymbols, who produce photography specifically designed for Easy Read. They have a fantastic library you can subscribe to. They also have a great guide to writing an Easy Read document on their website.

Perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice I can offer when looking at creating Easy Read documents is to involve your target audience - people with learning disabilities. This will make sure you really get your message across and once you have finished your document, it is fit for purpose.

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