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  • Writer's pictureClare Tarling

Is "accessible information" an impossible goal?

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Easy Read information is designed to make documents accessible for people with learning disabilities. We must be realistic about who it can reach, and be clear on the benefits for people who cannot read. A few years ago, I was making a leaflet for a day centre in Poole. I attended an evening staff meeting to find out more about the place and what they had to offer for the 100 people who attended each week. I asked the staff “how many people who come here can read?”. After a short discussion, the consensus was “about 2”.

So, how did we justify the cost, time and effort of producing a leaflet in an Easy Read format, when the vast majority of the people at the day centre couldn’t read?

  1. People who can’t read are often drawn to publications which feature photos of places and people they know.

  2. The images and easy words help support workers to keep people’s attention whilst they explain the information to them.

  3. 2 people at the day centre did read - that's 2 very important reasons right there!

  4. The leaflet will be seen by people who are interested in joining the centre in the future, and also by their family and friends.

  5. The large print and simplicity of Easy Read is great for people with a broad range of access needs. For example, visual impairments, dyslexia and dementia.

  6. It demonstrated a clear intention by the day service to be as accessible as possible. The leaflet was part of a wider effort to improve communication across the board, with sensory timetables, Signalong training for staff, colour-coded corridors and better signage to help people get around.

In summary, Easy Read information makes things more accessible, for a few more people. It will never make all information accessible for everyone. This might make me sound rather unambitious, but it is achievable, and it prevents me from feeling overwhelmed with the impossible task of reaching 100% accessibility.

Accessibility for all is a goal which can never be reached, but it is certainly something we must always be pushing towards.

Two people looking at some accessible information

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