Getting started with Easy English

Did you know 44% of Australians have difficulty reading and writing?

For people with low English literacy, reading and understanding everyday information such as banking details, school forms and energy bills can be a struggle.

Easy English is a great solution to assist people with disability or low English literacy to understand information for everyday tasks like banking, paying bills, or completing applications.

Businesses and organisations can improve customer experience by providing information in Easy English.

What is Easy English?

Easy English is a writing style that is concise and easy to understand. It uses simple language and carefully selected images to support key messages.

An example of an Easy English document. It's from the Commonwealth Bank, and it's about the coronavirus.

Who benefits from Easy English?

Anyone who has difficulty reading and understanding written English can benefit. This includes people with intellectual disability, older adults, or people who speak a language other than English at home. Many people say they prefer to read Easy English as it gets straight to the point and saves time.

Tips on getting started with Easy English

Although it may look simple, there is much more to writing in Easy English than meets the eye. Learning the fundamentals of the Easy English writing style takes some time, but the reward is worth it.

For customer-centric organisations seeking to better engage all customers, including vulnerable customers, Easy English can be a powerful tool.

“We are working with organisations that provide essential services like government, utilities and banking because they are hearing from customers that Easy English makes their lives easier. Those organisations are quickly seeing the benefits of reaching a greater number of customers, including vulnerable customers, with essential information,” explains Caroline Livanos, Scope’s Accessible Information Coordinator.

To get you started, here are Scope’s top five tips to keep in mind as you begin to plan an Easy English document:

  1. Explain one idea per sentence. Avoid lengthy sentences with lots of commas.
  2. Use basic language and grammar. Choose words based on everyday spoken language. For example, words like ‘autonomously’ are hard words.
  3. Use subheadings, bullet points, and white space to break up text. Bullet points or numbered lists can be useful to simplify language and help the reader identify key points.
  4. Use a simple font, layout, and design.
  5. Select images that are easily understood and add meaning to the text, for example, simple graphics or photos that demonstrate a particular idea or concept.

Interested in learning to write in Easy English? Scope’s new Accessible Information eLearning module can help.

Find out how our Accessible Information experts can help your business be inclusive.