‘Easy read’ refers to the presentation of text in an accessible, easy to understand format. It is often useful for people with learning disabilities, and may also be beneficial for people with other conditions affecting how they process information.
There are various different ways in which information can be made easy read, but there is a general consensus that the following rules should be observed:
- Text should be broken down into short sentences.
- Images should be selected to represent each sentence of text where possible.
- Language should be simplified wherever possible, and any necessary complicated words or terms should be explained.
- Text should be in a large font size, minimum 14pt.
- Text should be presented on A4 pages where possible, as A5 or smaller are not as accessible.
- Text should always be aligned on the right hand side of the page, and images should be aligned on the left hand side of the page.
- Avoid fancy fonts and italics.
- Design elements should be kept to a minimum to stop them detracting from the information.
Easy read materials are often a lot longer than non-easy read materials because of how they are formatted. For this reason, if you are converting a report into an easy read format it can be beneficial to shorten the text into an executive summary, keeping just the key elements that people need to know. This helps to avoid producing an unmanageably large document.
Easy read materials are becoming more commonplace, and their value in providing information to people with learning disabilities is widely accepted. However, some people may still need support in understanding easy read information; it should not be assumed that something in an easy read format will be understood.
Images for easy read materials can come from a variety of sources. Image banks are available, where images are made available for a subscription fee. Alternatively, you can commission an artist or designer to produce bespoke images, or you can make use of an organisation that provides this service.
When producing easy read materials it is advisable to ask people who have learning disabilities to support you during the process. This ensures that the resulting publication will be as successful as possible in being understood by the target audience. It takes some skill to create effective easy read text, so it is vital that the materials be tested before they are considered finished.