Sense Making Optimisation: an introduction

Have you heard of Search Engine Optimisation?  It helps ensure people can find your information online.

But what’s the point of making your information easy to find, if it’s too difficult to understand? Sense Making Optimisation is a new concept in accessible communications, providing a strategic approach to ensuring information is easier to understand and use.

The need for Sense Making Optimisation

Adult literacy data gives a bleak picture for communication practice: almost half the adult population regularly finds unadapted information too difficult to understand. There is also growing evidence that some traditional simplification techniques, popularised by plain English and Easy Read, can increase difficulty for people with lower literacy and disability.

Sense Making Optimisation enhances accessibility and understanding, whilst reducing misinterpretation and disengagement, by responding to your audiences’ language, literacy and knowledge needs.

A new communications approach

Sense Making Optimisation embraces, expands and improves on traditional simplification techniques, found in plain English and Easy Read, and increases inclusion for people with lower literacy and disabilities.

Sense Making Optimisation isn’t just for disadvantaged groups: it is for all audience groups.

Understanding your audiences’ language and literacy needs is a vital, and neglected, component of audience segmentation and communication planning.

Sense Making Optimisation integrates your customers’ knowledge needs with their language and literacy needs, takes the guesswork out of language adaptation, and bridges the information accessibility gap.

What is Sense Making Optimisation?

Sense Making Optimisation is a strategic approach to inclusive communication planning, delivery and evaluation. It maximises (optimises) how easy content is to understand and use, by recognising comprehensions as an interpretative process (sense making), influenced by multilevel factors.

Sense Making Optimisation addresses these elements in a structured way, using inclusive user involvement, evidence based frameworks, accredited training, and professional skills.

Benefits of Sense Making Optimisation

Sense Making Optimisation:

  • maximises customer understanding, and organisation resources
  • is based on customers’ needs and preferences
  • is evolving and responsive to new ideas and research
  • focuses on processing and interpretation (sense making), not reading
  • is suitable for traditional and digital media, including audio and video scripts
  • supports interpersonal communications
  • reduces the need for a dual system of adaptation (eg. Easy Read and unadapted), and removes arbitrary cut off points
  • promotes inclusion, by meeting the needs of all customers, including carers and support workers in health and social care
  • consistent with the social model of disability
  • increases validity of user testing
  • manages customer expectations, with realistic claims of accessibility
  • promotes professionalism in communication practice

More information and resources

For more information about SMO and training please contact us.

For free resources see the Accessible Information Ladder.

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