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What is Easy Read?
Information on the internet should be accessible to as many different people as possible. Easy Read is a globally standardised method of simplifying documents in a range of formats, from leaflets to news articles and other publications. Easy Read involves creating alternative versions of text, relating short sentences with relevant images. The aim is to remove barriers to understanding for individuals with learning disabilities.
How did it start?
The concept was introduced in the 1980s in Sweden. Spreading through Europe in the 1990s, it is now implemented by more than 66 countries worldwide.
In the UK the first-ever Easy Read resource was a government document called ‘Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century’. Starting as a way of delivering public information, it is becoming more readily available in a wide range of contexts. It is also a simpler, visual alternative to the standard format of everyday information. This can work well for anyone, with or without a learning disability.
The main characteristics of Easy Read
These can be broken down into three broad categories:
Language should be simplified when possible, so avoid complex and unnecessary words.
If you do use difficult terms, explain what these mean by using simpler words.
The text should be in a larger font, at least 14pt.
Use clear fonts such as Lato, Comfortaa and Arial. Avoid fonts like Times New Roman, Courier and Copperplate Gothic.
Images should be easy to understand and not overly complicated.
They should be big enough so they can be seen clearly.
Add ‘alt texts’ to images for individuals who use screen readers.
Each sentence or idea needs an image to relate to it.
Images go on the left-hand side of the page and the corresponding text goes to the right of it. This helps individuals to understand the textual information.
Ensure that it’s clear which pictures support each bit of text.
The text should be broken into smaller sentences. Sentences with more than 15 words are hard to read and should be avoided.
Sentences should be separated, and not in large paragraphs.
Documents should have clear headings and subheadings.
Documents should be short where possible. As a rule, try not to exceed 20 pages.
An example of Easy Read
The best way to understand what an Easy Read document is, is to see what one looks like.
Here is a short example we’ve put together at Patchwork Hub. This is how we might introduce our company in the form of an Easy Read document:
Hello and welcome to Patchwork Hub!
Patchwork Hub is a website where people can find jobs.
Finding a job can be hard for many people.
This might be because they have a disability, or maybe have young children.
We think that everybody should be able to find a job that they can do.
What we believe
We think that everybody should have an equal chance to work and succeed.
People with disabilities should be able to have jobs. This is because they have skills and work hard.
What can we take away from this example?
Each image has short, ‘easy to read’ sentences next to them.
The images and text are both large, making it easier for individuals to understand them.
We chose simple and clear fonts.
We made sure that sentences are separated by spaces and aren’t clumped together.
We have bold subheadings for individual sections.
Web-based information must be accessible to a wide variety of users. Easy Read is a universally standardised method of converting documents into more easily understandable formats. In short, Easy Read involves creating simplified versions of documents that relate short sentences with relevant images.
Though often created for people with learning disabilities, it can also benefit people with other conditions that affect information processing.
Here at Patchwork Hub, we’re dedicated to making the internet a more accessible place. Has this blog inspired you to take action and make your documents more inclusive? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Published: 28th March 2022
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