When writing easy English documents you should:
- Use short simple sentences e.g. instead of ‘a motion was moved and approved’ write ‘everyone agreed’.
- Break up the document with clear and simple headings.
- Use dot points and lists, e.g. in the meeting we will talk about:
- houses for people with disabilities
- self advocacy groups.
- Focus on key facts.
- Present information in sequenced clear steps.
- Use bold and colours to highlight important words, headings and phrases.
- Do not use jargon or acronyms. If you have to use jargon use a word bank to explain the terms.
- Use conversational and direct language e.g. “Betty talked about the problems in her house.” “We will pay you to go to the meetings.”
- Don’t use contractions e.g. use cannot instead of can’t.
- Do not use language shortcuts e.g. We will give it to them. (not Easy English) We will give the report to the government. (Easy English).
- Use numbers not words e.g. 1, not one.
- Use 16 point and at least 1.5 line spacing.
- Use wide margins and left justify text.
- If you are using pictures place them to the left of the writing.
- Number pages.
- Use wide spaces to separate new topics or information.
- Use a clear easy to read Sans Serif font such as Arial, Century Gothic or Verdana.
- Keep punctuation to a minimum.
- Always finish a sentence or a paragraph on the same page.
“The minutes are not really that accessible to understand. No they are really complicated I think I have raised this once with them I think I said the minutes should be in Plain English and that. They said they would try. Well it would be better, then I can understand what I am reading.”
Participation in Government Disability Advisory Bodies in Australia: An Intellectual Disability perspective. Patsie Frawley
The use of pictures to highlight concepts is an important component of Easy English documents. Pictures make the content and key messages easier to understand. SARU has found that people prefer photos rather than drawings as they believe the drawings can be childish. When using photos, you should:
- Use the photos to highlight key points and make sure you place the picture next to the point you are illustrating.
- Combine photos when needed e.g. adding ticks, thumbs up, thumbs down, thought bubbles, etc.
- Place the photos to the left of the text.
- Make sure photos are simple, self-explanatory and on a clear background.
- Use the same image for the same concept throughout the document, e.g. meeting.
Ideas for sourcing photos include:
- Subscribed to Photo Symbols Easy Read Library at: http://www.photosymbols.com/
- Get creative and take your own photos.
- Use google images but make sure you are not breaching copyright.
Free Online Resources
Chapter 4. Identify and Remove Barriers
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