By Estelle Bloom
Everyday we are bombarded by information that waffles and baffles in equal measure.
Jargon is by far the worst culprit. But if it leaves us bewildered, how about the 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability or the one in six who struggle with literacy?
Making information clear and easy to understand is actually not that hard.
Someone with a learning disability once said to me: “If I get letters I don’t understand, I throw them away”.
Those few words say it all. If we can’t communicate with people in a way they understand, we’ve wasted our time (and money) and theirs as well. And we’re in danger of excluding them in the process.
So how can we succeed in getting our message across in a way that people can and want to engage with?
Here are a few simple pointers:
Think about your audience
Think about the people using your information before you start.
Can you be sure they will they know your subject matter and the words you use, just because you know them?
It can be tricky at first, but trying to put yourself in the shoes of someone reading your information can give you a whole new perspective.
Keep it easy
It’s natural to want to show we are experts on a subject. But if people don’t understand what we say, it’s a wasted effort.
Everyday words are the key to success. They are easier to understand and digest. And people won’t have to break their flow by stumbling over words they can’t pronounce.
If you’re stuck, a good tip is to think about how you would explain your subject to someone sitting next to you
Less is more
We aim for around 12 pages or less with our easy read information.
Not only do most people want something quick and simple to read, but many find it hard to retain a lot of detail.
Being direct, to the point and including key points only makes your message clearer and more memorable
Being confronted by pages of small text can be off-putting for anyone.
But for people with communication difficulties, it can stop them even wanting to try.
Making the text a bit bigger and breaking it up into small chunks makes information more inviting and easier to take in.
It can mean the difference between someone giving up or giving it a go.
Don’t forget images
For people who struggle with reading, images are not just a pretty picture.
Well-chosen images can help people understand the writing and make the information look friendlier. And that’s half the battle won already.
There are more really useful guidelines on Making it Clear UK
Check out examples of products that are there to make life easier such as Easy Read Toilet Signs