If you’re looking for plain English or Easy Read, and not sure if Easier English is for you, find out more here. If you have any questions, please get in contact and we’ll be happy to help.
Easy Read is a way of simplifying information with images, for people with learning disability. There’s very little research specifically on Easy Read, and the evidence base isn’t encouraging.
Our research found the Easy Read writing style is the same as plain English, and derives from plain English. Easy Read may look simple, but we found 46% of Easy Read language was more difficult than unadapted texts, using quantitative and qualitative analysis.
We also found some Easy Read techniques increase difficulty for people with cognitive, communication and learning disabilities. Images and user testing do not guarantee ease of understanding.
We created Easier English to improve consistency and quality. Easier English is easier than Easy Read, and responsive to any disability or level of need, including learning disability, dementia, sensory impairment and aphasia (acquired language impairment). Easier English also provides a framework for user involvement and testing.
If your audience is asking for Easy Read, it can be created with Easier English. Unlike Easy Read writing, people with learning and communication disabilities were involved in the development of Easier English, through clinical experience and empirical research.
Accessible Information Standard
NHS England included Easy Read in the Accessible Information Standard (AIS) without an independent quality review. Although Easy Read is unregulated and lacks a robust evidence base, the AIS gives Easy Read as an example of good practice.
The AIS does not say organisations must use Easy Read. We think Easy Read is a tool, not an outcome, What’s important is the outcome – accessible information – and the impact that has on people’s lives. That’s why we think your customers will like Easier English.
Read more about Easier English, or contact us for a chat if you already use Easy Read, or you’ve been asked to provide it.
‘Plain English’ is both a concept and a method. The concept of clarity is increasingly embedded in good communications practice. The method is a set of rules or guidelines to achieve clarity.
Popular simplification techniques were created many decades ago. People with lower literacy and disability were not equally involved in the underlying research, and popular techniques are insufficient in reducing complexity for all.
Traditional plain English
In the UK traditional, or popular, plain English promotes ideas of ‘short’ and ‘simple’. There is an idea that the reader is busy and brevity enhances clarity. Writers should use bullet points, and avoid jargon and passives.
Jargon tends to be nouns, and other difficult sentence types are not included, leading to subjective simplifications. Editorial justifications are also often subjective, eg ‘stronger’, ‘readers prefer’, rather than objective. There is a reliance on readability scores, which work by counting, to test clarity and give a grade or reading age.
Plain English and lower literacy
Popular plain English is an incomplete model of language simplification and comprehension. Short sentences can still be very complex, so sentence length is not a reliable indicator of ease. Variability in practice means texts with the same reading score can differ widely in complexity.
Brevity brings new challenges, because short sentences have less connections between ideas. The connecting words – or ideas they represent – are still needed for understanding. Readers with good literacy skills (including writers and editors) can make these connections, but it’s much harder for others. Bullet points are also easier for some audiences than for others.
A combination of brevity and subjective simplicity fails to maximise understanding for readers with lower literacy, low topic knowledge and disability. That’s why we’ve pioneered Easier English. Easier English provides objective, systematic techniques, to maximise understanding and learning.
Read more about Easier English, or contact us for a chat if you already use plain English, or you’ve been asked to provide it.
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 NHS Foundation Trust
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.