Hi. We all use easy read as much as possible, which is a good thing. But there are lots of different ways of doing it. Does anyone have any recent research evidence about how effective easy read is, and the best way of doing it?
I’d be interested to see this too
There’s a couple of links here that might be of help:
I’d also be interested to see this.
From first hand reporting in our organisation, Easy Read (done well) is helpful and but it’s difficult to find good comprehensive evidence about it, partly because auditing hugely variable standards is difficult and partly, I think because the communication and language / literacy support needs of people with learning disabilities vary so widely - there is so rarely a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
In terms of evidence, aside from the NHS Accessible Information Standard https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/accessibleinfo/
and the links from Communication Matters above, another excellent source of evidence and information comes from Dr Claire Mander’s work http://www.accessibleinfo.co.uk/information/
This highlights a much neglected aspect of Accessible Information, which is the need for a competent communication partner to help someone with a learning disability to access the Easy Read information - the assumption is generally that making an easy read version is enough, but this isn’t always the case.
In the same way that, for many people with learning disabilities, supplying a digital communication aid can have limited effect on someone’s communication skills unless they have a skilled communication partner (to wait for a message/ assist with learning to use the device/ put it on charge etc), ‘Easy Read’ is often only helpful if there is communication partner support to help someone access it initially - and that step unfortunately is often missing.
There are a few links to broadly related speech and language therapy research articles on the include.org website https://include.org/inclusive-communication/ but it’s not specific to Easy Read as we provide informal and formal training for communication partners across a range of areas.
You are welcome to drop us a line at email@example.com if you would like to chat further - but I would really recommend the Portsmouth Accessible Info page as a free source of helpful advice : )
Thank you Alix for highlighting the importance of a competent communication partner.
We teach adults with a wide range of learning disabilities and/or autism. In my experience, ‘easy read’ with carefully thought out words and pictures can enable people who can read to find out information. It can also help supporters give information to people who do not read.
Many of the people we teach who do not read words enjoy showing their skills in reading pictures when together we look at an ‘easy read’ piece of information. People who are able to read words also appear to enjoy the rare opportunity to use these skills. The pictures also offer useful reminders of the main themes of the information.
We are interested in potential gaps between giving information and checking out understanding of the information - the risk that a service may believe that by creating ‘easy read’ information their customers have been informed and understand. The question being, ‘What support do individuals need to understand the information and relate it to their own life and decision making - what does this mean? what does it mean for me and my life?’
Please google Mander, C. (2011). Accessible Information. Brilliant research paper. This writer then developed a brilliant website with all the tools required to put together accessible information. The website is www.accessibleinfo.co.uk I used these tools as I needed Easy Read for part of my MSc dissertation.
Easy Read information is really important for lots of reasons. My take on it has always been that we can produce and use it but to remember (as Claire Mander’s work shows and as Alix mentions above) that is does not / should not exist in a vacuum. It needs to be used and worked with as a tool within an individual context. Or as a tool for some other purpose but very rarely a stand alone item.
I’ve done some experimental work on whether the way we currently simplify language and use standard explanations works to help improve understanding of Easy Read information. We also measured participant’s vocabulary levels and reading levels. We found that the thing that made the most difference to understanding the information was the level of vocabulary that people in the project had. So those who had better language skills did better at understanding Easy Read information. This (along with some other findings) led us to conclude that Easy Read will work best when it is accompanied by an explanation that is tailor-made to the person with learning disabilities and to their level of language understanding and language skills.
I have published this experimental work in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research (2020). I’ve also written a bit in response to Claire Mander’s work in the Tizard Learning Disability Review about the importance of making Easy Read material relevant for people. Deborah Chinn and Homeyard 2017 have reviewed evidence for Easy Read material and another review was carried out by Sutherland and Isherwood 2016. They both found little evidence of effectiveness in the research reviewed.
However, this is not the whole story. There are so many variables that influence purpose, production, use, understanding and the context of Easy Read material and these all need to be considered when presenting people who have learning disabilities with an Easy Read document. As one of my participants told me…‘It isn’t always easy and I can’t always read it’.
Anyone who wants to see my article(s) or make contact feel free to email me at my work address firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter .