The first newspaper designed specifically for people with learning disabilities has been launched.
The newspaper, Easy News, has been created by disability charity United Response in an easy read format, which uses simple words and visual cues to explain the news stories. Currently, just 11% of people with learning disabilities read newspapers – largely because of their complex language.
Easy News is the latest in a series of initiatives by United Response designed to promote greater inclusion of people with learning disabilities in society. It follows on from the charity’s Every Vote Counts campaign, which saw the numbers of people with learning disabilities voting in the 2010 election double from 2005.
United Response’s research, while developing the newspaper, found that a lack of accessible news makes it harder for people with learning disabilities to engage with politics. Just 16% of people with learning disabilities said they were interested in politics, and more than half didn’t feel that politics had an impact on their daily lives.
Emma from West Sussex has been supported by United Response for the last eight years. She has never engaged in politics and does not read newspapers. “I cannot read them so I would not understand them” she said. Easy News aims to help people like Emma by delivering major news to those who struggle to understand the mainstream media.
Another service user, Nick from Manchester, added: “It’s important to learn what’s going on in real life, to find out what’s happening. I think keeping up with the news is good for everybody, it shouldn’t just be for people who can read well.”
Easy News will be produced every other month and will be available in paper, downloadable PDF and audio versions. The first edition covers top stories from 2012, including changes to the NHS, successes in the Paralympics and much more. The stories have been translated into easy read format from a variety of news sources and are delivered in an unbiased, non-partisan way. The selection of stories is based on areas of interest indicated by survey respondents. The project has been part-funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
United Response’s chief executive, Su Sayer CBE, said: “I’m very proud that we are starting our 40th anniversary year by launching something as creative and important as Easy News. The people we support are affected by events in the outside world, including politics, as much as anyone, if not more so. Yet they often find it hard to find out what is happening because news outlets and politicians tend to use very complex language. This easy read newspaper will give them the chance to find out what is happening and to get involved, by voting or making their voices heard.”
Disability blogger and activist Kaliya Franklin helped create the concept for the newspaper alongside United Response. She said: “Of all the campaigning I have done over the past few years Easy News is the project I am most proud of and excited to be involved in. Full participation in society means being able to understand and inform ourselves about the world around us – only then can we choose for ourselves who to vote for, and be part of the democratic process as full citizens.”
For further information on Easy News and to download a copy, go to www.unitedresponse.org.uk/easynews.