Spelling out the importance of Easy English

Did you know that 44% of adults have difficulty reading and writing? That’s according to the Australian Government (link opens in new window). If you’re creating documents for people with low literacy levels, they need to be easily understood.

Our Accessibility services recently worked with Activ, a registered NDIS provider in WA. Activ provides services for people with intellectual disability, offering services in accommodation, community, employment and training and education. In addition, Activ provides short term accommodation and behaviour support.

Niall and his two colleagues gather at a table with easy English documents
Niall, Pavlina and Georgia review a number of Easy English documents

Activ accessibility project

We’ve had a long standing partnership with Activ. The not-for-profit called on our expertise three years ago because it wanted to ensure its website was accessible. This winter, we produced an accessible Mailchimp eNewsletter template and completed a website accessibility review. We also created some Easy English (link opens in new window) resources outlining service provision, as Niall Naghten, Marketing and Communications Manager, explains.

“Many of our customers have low levels of literacy. We want to take the lead and empower people to live independently, so all our online and written material needs to be easily understood.”

Niall Naghten – Marketing and Communications Manager, Activ

Our Accessibility Specialist Vithya Vijayakumare and Easy English and Braille Officer Leone Carroll worked with Niall and his team members, Pavlina and Georgia, on the project.

“The beauty of Easy English is that it resonates with our customers because it cuts down on jargon. It’s effective because it uses shorter sentences and images.” 

At VisAbility we ensure that images relate directly to the key messages so they are easier to understand. The images can include illustrations of actions, use of thumbs up to illustrate ‘good’ or thumbs down for ‘bad’. We use the same images to represent the same concepts to reinforce the meaning.

Niall and his team members stand next to a screen that reads Activ
Activ’s material aims to be easily understood

Niall says feedback has been encouraging, and as a result, Activ hopes to incorporate more Easy English into future communications.

“Our customers benefit, but so do our staff. If you are sending something out in Easy English you are effectively streamlining and as a result reducing realms of unnecessary information.”

Niall Naghten – Marketing and Communications Manager, Activ

Easy English explained

Easy English is also beneficial for people from different cultural backgrounds who speak English as a second language.

Features include:

  • short sentences
  • simple, everyday words
  • dot points
  • large text size
  • clear headings
  • plenty of white space
  • images to accompany words

We’re pushing for more organisations and government bodies to adopt Easy English. To find out more about the work we do, contact our Accessibility services team today.