Low literacy

Low literacy style of illustration

In addition to developing publications for people with learning disabilities, CDS also has a wealth of experience of reaching people with low literacy and people who do not speak English as a first language.

Our illustration style has been developed in conjunction with the audience and includes a more sophisticated style with the inclusion of facial expressions, posture and greater background detail.

UK Border Agency

The UK Border Agency wanted to produce a low-literacy publication about preparing to leave the UK. This would allow them to consult and engage with families who are required to leave the UK.

The UK Border Agency wanted to work with a company that had the experience and expertise in producing Easy Read and low literacy publications for wide and diverse audiences. They also wanted to work with a company that had experience and knowledge of the audience and, importantly, understood their needs.

The solution

The UK Border Agency provided the base text for the low-literacy publication. Our team of Easy Read/low-literacy specialists comprising editors, illustrators and designers then commenced work. The team evaluated the base text and considered the needs of the target audience. They also discussed ways in which key messages could be simplified to convey important information.

Prior to commencing work we consulted with the UK Border Agency. This provided a valuable opportunity to talk to people who worked with the families who were required to leave the UK and gain an insight into the needs of those people.

After the analysis of the text our team of specialist Easy Read editors rewrote the text using simple, clear language to help convey key messages. Particular attention was given to using words that are easy to understand and appropriate to people with low literacy. The publication was, primarily, aimed at the children in the families who were required to leave the UK. The aim was to keep the children informed and help them to cope with, what could be, a traumatic situation. There was also a short introduction for parents. The principles used in producing the publication included using an active voice and using short words and sentences.

Once the text had been approved, our expert designers and illustrators worked with the editor to identify illustrations to represent the key messages. The CDS Easy Read style of bespoke illustrations allowed us to convey key messages in a friendly and accessible illustration appropriate to the target audience. During the development stage, particular consideration was given to ensure that the illustrations have the correct level of detail and that the characters reflect the diverse people required to leave the UK without stereotyping or patronising.

Using illustrations to represent different situations allows the reader, who may have low-literacy skills, to read and understand the message in the illustration. For those people who are unable to read, the style of writing and the accompanying illustrations provides a valuable resource which may be used by a family member or friend to tell them about the documents. Clear and accessible design principles were then used to lay out each page.

Welsh Assembly

The Welsh Assembly Government wanted to produce an Easy Read version of their Strategy to allow them to consult and engage with the Gypsy and Traveller community. The Easy Read version needed to be accessible and produced for an audience with low literacy skills.

The Government’s Gypsy and Traveller Unit wanted to work with a company that had the experience and expertise in producing Easy-Read publications for wide and diverse audiences including disadvantaged groups. They also wanted to work with a company that had experience and knowledge of the audience and importantly understood their needs. The ability to provide a complete solution covering everything from consultancy to editorial, design and testing through a consultation process was also a key factor in our appointment.

How the objective was achieved

The Gypsy Traveller Unit provided the base text for the Easy Read version. Our team of Easy Read specialists comprising editors, illustrators, developers and designers then evaluated the base material and considered the requirements and needs of the target audience. They also discussed ways in which key messages could be simplified to convey important information.

Prior to commencing work, we consulted with a local Gypsy and Traveller Unit, a community members association for Gypsies and Travellers who live in the local area. This provided a valuable opportunity to talk to paid workers and gain a very useful insight into the Gypsy and Traveller community and their needs. We also evaluated other information which had been produced for Gypsy and Travellers. Our research showed that, in the main cases, very little consideration is given to the needs of Gypsies and Travellers. This often results in them being excluded from accessing essential services.

After the analysis, CDS rewrote the text using simple clear language to help convey key messages. Particular attention was given to simplify complex information and to use words that are easy to understand and appropriate to people with low literacy.

Our expert designers and illustrators ten worked with the editor to identify illustrations to represent the key messages. The CDS Easy-Read style of bespoke illustrations allowed us to convey key messages in a friendly and accessible illustration appropriate to the target audience. During the development stage, particular consideration was given to ensure that the illustrations have the correct level of detail and that the characters reflect the gypsy and traveller community without stereotyping or appearing patronising.

The solution

The final Easy-Read publications have proved very successful and allowed the Welsh Assembly Government to communicate important information on their plans to achieve equality for the Gypsy and Traveller community. The site design and site management documents have also allowed the government and local authorities to communicate important information to Gypsies and Travellers living on permanent and temporary sites.

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