‘Easy-read’ newspapers help people with learning disabilities follow the news

A charity is using visual cues and simplified language to make news accessible to all

People with one or more learning disabilities now have access to easier-to-understand news, thanks to the efforts of journalist and disability rights campaigner Kaliya Franklin.

After she realised the UK’s 1.5 million people with learning disabilities might find her blog posts difficult to read, Franklin got in touch with a charity called United Response, which advocates better access to democracy for people with such disabilities.

Their expert team of people with learning disabilities – UR Consultants – wrote up ‘easy-read’ versions of various news items using visual cues and simplified language to get across important information. The team has subsequently created a regular news bulletin called Easy News, the first issue of which is now available online.

Research by the charity among 300 of its service users found that just 16% were interested in politics, largely because of the inaccessible way it is presented. Only one in ten read newspapers, but an encouraging 58% said they would read an easy-read paper.