Friday, 20 October 2017

Papers from PLAIN International 2017




Day 2 Key notes included a presentation from the newly created German Easy to Read Concept. "Leichte Sprache". They have published a large text on 'how to write in German Easy to Read'.

A few papers discussed working with people with lower literacy skills.

Belgium - Van Der Waarde - Plain Language in health: Can understandable information improve the use of medicines by patients? This was developed from the graphic designer perspective, with lots of insights into how to get images to work for the content.

Germany - Weigard/Zschorlicj - Head lice: Nothing to be ashamed of. Evidence based health information for hard to reach target groups. Important message: websites do not work for this target group!!!

Ireland -  Lane/Droog - Men's Cancer Prevention and Health Literacy. Discussed how information needs to be presented differently for men - use of easy to read language; humour, positive messages and infographics. Interestingly they have their images on the Right side of pages. Love to chat more....

Australia - Basterfield – Workshop – Improve Communication- Improve Customer Relationships. For those that came a great discussion on how the strategies for interactive communication  are as relevant and as important as our written messages. Working with participants who have English as a 2nd. 3rd or 4th language was great fun, as we tried to identify simple everyday words for complex ones!.  
Australia – Basterfield – Who is my Customer. A thought provoking paper, which people afterwards commented they had no idea or hadn’t realised the vulnerable people I write Easy English for, is (i) out there and (ii) as prevalent as it is.

A couple of papers I missed , but want to catch up with...
Sweden - Jaensson Introducing a new grant to new target groups. Unfortunately I didn’t get to this paper as I was chairing another session. Looking forward to the PPT and a follow up with Annasara;

Germany – Frohlich – Capito – Easy to read . Practical experiences.
Based on digital experiences. Development of the ‘├žapito’ method and quality standards.


Cathy Basterfield
Access Easy English
0466 579 855 
Facebook:    /accesseasyenglish

"Thank you for making this information harder to read" From PLAIN International 2017



Held in Graz, Austria at the largest university in their city.

Lots of people from many different countries attended. There a few more papers and discussion about meeting the needs of people who do have more limited literacy, which was great to see. PPT's from the conference will be available soon. I will put the link here when they are available.

Highlights -  there were many.

In the Opening Address Neil James, the outgoing President welcomed everyone with the 4 'S' of Plain Language.
- Service
- Satisfaction
- Safety
- Savings.
Service
covered things such as
 - information from a company is easier to understand;
- it takes less time to write and act on the information;
- saves money;
- better relationships with customers.

Satisfaction
- A great slide with comments about "when was the last time a customer said......."
       'thank you for making this information more complicated than  it needed to be';
       'but this was too easy to understand';
       'I feel smarter when you make it harder to read';
       I would like to spend more time doing this (read document)!'

Safety
Complex information is not clear. It is more open to misinterpretation. Think about an insurance statement....

Savings
More recent data has shown when using Plain Language:-
25%-40% reduction in a documents length;
50% reduction in writing time
40%-60% reduction in reviewing time;
50% reduction in number of drafts;
50% increase in reader satisfaction.

Now put these in the context of Easy English..... 


Cathy Basterfield
Access Easy English
0466 579 855 
Facebook:    /accesseasyenglish

Monday, 22 May 2017

RoboDebt; Not My debt; CentreLink Enquiry


HI all,

Earlier this year the Federal Government commissioned the Senate to complete an enquiry into the Design, scope, cost-benefit analysis, contracts awarded and implementation associated with the Better Management of the Social Welfare System initiative . The less confusing version is: "CentreLink and the experiences of people during the so-called 'robo-debt' collection.” 

It was great to read so many organisations highlighted the needs of the many vulnerable people in the community who have lots of difficulty in accessing numerical and financial information, or even knowing what are their Rights. 

I was invited to present to the Senate enquiry in person (teleconference). On Thursday 27 April, 2017, I presented to the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs regarding my submission, access and information at CentreLink, both low adult literacy and also low computer literacy in our community.

The Hansard recording of my hearing presentation is here. Look under Launceston 27 April, 2017.

The Advocate" http://www.theadvocate.com.au/…/…/centrelink-english-learnt/ and "The Examiner" http://www.examiner.com.au/…/462…/centrelink-english-learnt/ also reported on my presentation, as well as other presentations from the Launceston hearing, including mentioning my evidence.

I included some information on numerical literacy in my submission. In my presentation I focused more specifically on the breadth and extent of low literacy skills in our community, and also the lack of computer literacy (and access to the hardware/internet) in the community, required to access CentreLink.

I could have also discussed the huge percent of adults with low Numerical Literacy in our community, but there is only so much you can emphasize in a 35 minute conversation. The import of my message was heard.

Another submission used the term "CentreLink English" to describe how difficult it is to read and understand information from CentreLink. I was asked about whether I had heard this term before! No, but just imagine you walk into a new job. Everyone uses acronyms, phrases and words that are familiar to them, but completely unfamiliar to you, the outsider. Yes, that is what CentreLink English is like.

The report from this enquiry is due out in early June 2017.
Next: is to hear what will happen for change. 
What will the recommendations be? I will keep you posted.
  
I am here to help you develop and build awareness of the need for government documents to be accessible for people with non functional literacy. I am advertising a 2 day training “Learn to write Easy English” for June 19 & 20 in Melbourne. Flyer and booking links or contact me using any of the methods below.

Cathy Basterfield
Access Easy English
0466 579 855 
Facebook:    /accesseasyenglish

Friday, 7 April 2017

Access to Justice Report and Recommendations


HI all,

Late last year the Victorian Government Access to Justice Report and Recommendations were published. My submission is here

It was great to read so many organisations highlighted the needs of the many vulnerable people in the community who have lots of difficulty in accessing legal information, or even knowing what are their Rights. This was replicated in the report and recommendations.

There are 3 separate recommendations where Easy English was included:-

(1) Recommendation 2.1  (p.144)
Make Victoria Legal Aid the primary information entry point
In part recommends:
“....ensure that legal information materials meet best practice and accessibility standards,
including the provision of materials in plain-language, Easy English, and languages
other than English;...”

(2) Recommendation 2.4  (p.147)
“Making information about courts and tribunals more accessible
In part recommends:
“..Victorian courts and tribunals are encouraged to consider ways to make their websites and
legal information materials more accessible. .... include the provision of information in languages other than English, in plain-language, and in Easy English format.....”

and

(3) Recommendation 8.2 (p 4.99)
“ Improving access to interpreters
In part recommends:
“ ...Legal information should be published in plain-language, languages other than English and Easy English....”
  
It was also clear there were no submissions about interactive communication in the submissions to this review. It was not discussed in the body of the report. There were no specific recommendations about this important part of communication for people who have contact with the Justice Sector. Speech Pathologists and researchers are working in this space. A couple of areas of note are:
- Language and social communication skills of youths in the Justice Sector
- Undiagnosed language/literacy and other disabilities in the Youth Justice Sector;
- school adherence;
- knowledge of Rights, Responsibilities and the law;
- experiences of people with Complex Communication Needs when they have interaction with any aspect of the Justice Sector, from police to court staff, solicitors and judges.

I have since followed up with the Victorian Government, and hope to have some good news about next steps to get some of these Easy English recommendations further advanced. I also have raised the issue of the lack of information about the language and communication skills of people who have contact with the Justice Sector.

It was great to be able to further the conversation about Legal information at the Legal Literacy conference, Clarity in New Zealand last year. I presented a paper on Access to Written Information: A social equity, social justice issue. It generated lots of conversation about the various definitions of Legal Literacy, and what happens for the 44% of the adult population with non functional literacy.

I am here to help you develop those legalese documents, and make them accessible for people with non functional literacy.

Cathy Basterfield
Access Easy English
0466 579 855 
Facebook:    /accesseasyenglish