Easier English is an approach to content design and accessibility that increases knowledge and improves customer experiences. Easier English updates and expands traditional plain English and Easy Read, tailoring content and writing styles to need at many levels.
Easier English isn’t just about simplification, and it isn’t a single style – it’s an evidence based, multilevel framework which systematically guides strategy, engagement, content creation, simplification and evaluation.
Easier English can deliver content at more than one literacy or complexity level, depending on your audience need. It increases accessibility for audiences with low topic knowledge, high to low literacy, and those with sensory, communication and cognitive disabilities.
Easier English can also be combined with other communication practices already embedded in your organisation.
Our strategic advice and evidence based techniques enable you to deliver content with confidence, knowing it’s easily understandable and usable for your audience.
Easier English can help you:
your customers’ language, literacy and knowledge needs, to inform communication strategy and content design.
with all customers, including those with low topic knowledge, high to low literacy and sensory, cognitive and communication disabilities.
customers’ knowledge, empowerment and satisfaction, with accessible information that’s tailored to their language, literacy and knowledge needs.
with user testing, accessibility reviews and training, to ensure content is understandable and easy to use.
Easier English makes content easier to understand and access at multiple levels, including:
We first discover what your audience wants and needs to know, and the context of your communications.
To be engaging and motivating, content must be relevant and easy to understand.
We use familiar words and concepts. We take in to account all word types, not just ‘jargon’ (which tends to be nouns).
Using short words isn’t enough, because the concepts behind the words must be easy too.
We reduce sentence complexity. We can simplify all sentence types, including passives and many others.
We don’t simply shorten sentences as this is an unreliable way to reduce difficulty. Short sentences can still be complex, and introduce new challenges. Reducing complexity usually reduces sentence length automatically.
To understand information, we need to connect ideas, called cohesion.
Cohesion is particularly important for audiences with low topic knowledge, lower literacy, visual impairment, and difficulties understanding and remembering language.
Traditional simplification methods typically reduce cohesion, but Easier English is responsive to need – if your audience needs high cohesion, we’ll provide it.
In Easier English, content is organised sequentially and logically, using a text structure that’s appropriate to your audience’s needs.
Textual features should also be familiar to the intended audience. So if your audience isn’t confident with bullet points (for example), we won’t use them.
We create strong links between images and text to maximise understanding and retention.
The type, number and purpose of images are guided by the audience’s needs, and your communication goals.
Language complexity in Easier English is objective and based on evidence, which included people with lower literacy and disability. Therefore evaluating complexity is inherent in the method.
What does need checking is how content is understood and used in practice. We ensure language is accessible for user involvement and valid testing.
The Easier English quality mark represents information that has been created and adapted using Easier English. The symbol gives reassurance to customers that content and language are adapted using evidence-based methods, tailored to their needs.
The quality mark can also indicate level of complexity. The complexity indicators tell recipients how easy the content may be, and whether it is right for them.
Language, literacy and knowledge needs are vital audience demographics, overlooked in traditional communications. Understanding these needs is crucial to deliver content that is easy to understand and use.
Language, literacy and knowledge needs are integral to ‘information and communication support needs’, found in NHS England’s Accessible Information Standard.
In Easier English, language needs are how an individual makes sense of his or her native language to process the underlying abstract concepts and ideas. Language needs are therefore linked to communication needs, and cognition and information processing.
We use internationally recognised literacy levels and an understanding of your audience’s preferences and functional literacy skills.
Knowledge needs in Easier English are not just what the audience needs and wants to know, but also what the audience already knows. It is only when links are formed between existing and new knowledge that learning truly begins.
Keep up to date with the latest news from Inklecomms on accessible information, industry leading techniques and how best to communicate with your wider audience in the most effective way.
Department of Work and Pensions
Inklecomms was asked by the DWP to provide advice and adaptations to ensure letters to claimants regarding Employment and Support Allowance, and Jobseekers’ Allowance, were easier to understand.
Claimant representatives were engaged in content creation and feedback.
Working with users and other stakeholders, Inklecomms improved the content, flow, relevance and clarity of standard letters, using Easier English.
Inklecomms also provided an accessibility audit for a proposed Easy Read leaflet. The audit included analysis and recommendations on intended audience and writing style, including text structure, expository features, language and illustrations.
This work contributed to a review of information products, following recommendations by the independent Work Capability Assessment and Oakley reviews.
Northern Neurological Alliance
A questionnaire to measure outcomes, for people with acquired neurological conditions, was adapted using Easier English. Adaptations aimed to improve ease of use and validity of responses.
Advice was provided on further, staged simplifications of the questionnaire, so that it could be adapted to meet the needs of people with progressive conditions.
VisitEngland and VisitScotland
Inklecomms provided language consultation for VisitEngland and VisitScotland’s new Accessibility Guides website, enabling tourism operators to produce accessibility guides for visitors with disabilities.
The main focus of the work was to construct questions, and multiple-choice answers, that would automatically generate readable, relevant, public-facing, online information.
The final website was simpler and more standardised than the previous format. User testing showed the site is easier for businesses to complete, and easier for people with accessibility needs to use.
‘These new guides will give clear accessibility information to make it easier for disabled visitors to plan their trips with confidence.’
John Glen, UK Government
‘The new accessibility guides will allow travellers to compare attractions and accommodation before choosing their destination, enabling them to make an informed choice.’
Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland Chief Executive
Royal Marsden Hospital
Inklecomms provided advice and training, to combine a complaints leaflet, and its Easy Read equivalent, into one standard document.
Adaptations using Easier English improved understanding, and ease of use, for patients and carers with diverse language, literacy and knowledge needs.