Allegations of child abuse in the media is sickening – we need to share our knowledge of basic Human Rights with children by delivering policy in formats accessible to them.
Knowledge is power
Policy documents are often written by highly educated professionals in highly educated professional-speak, and generally not in the language used by the people they are designed to protect.
The delivery of policy documents needs to change to be part of mainstream information provision. How often do people actually read policy documents, from start to finish? We have so many formats available to us, that appeal to young people, those with English as a second language, people with cognitive difficulties, in short, any vulnerable groups, those who really need protecting. Policy documents should literally ‘speak’ to them, they should be memorable, how else can people be protected by them?
Tools to help
1. Convert policy documents into an easy read format
This means having meaningful use of images to support sentence structure and using a common language (without loosing legal context).
Use tools like HERO docs (Healthcare Easy Read Online) to convert policy into easy read
Live example visit www.HEROdocs.com
2. Publish policy in mobile friendly formats
Do you read PDF’s on your phone, personally I’ve lost interest after scrolling across the first paragraph.
Publish policies as a normal web page – don’t hide them in PDF or Word Doc attachments.
3. Add Word-Bank to your site
Word-Bank definitions add comprehension to your website content (can also be added to individual policy pages). Word-Bank won a BBC innovation lab award for aiding those that could fall through the information gaps and our technological approach.Live example visit www.hrch.nhs.uk/about-us/
Or Word-Bank FAQs for more information.
4. Creating an animated (easy read) film
This is a great way to make complex subjects accessible. An example being NHS Englands national Continuing Healthcare film (created with Greenwich CCG).
Continuing Healthcare is sometimes known as end of life care, it’s when our health needs change when having illnesses such as cancer and being able to access addition budgets that are fairly much unlimited.
The policy has a legal context, it was published then copied and pasted across NHS websites but the policy was too complex for time poor health professionals to understand and then be able to impart to patients and families.
We worked with the policy writers to create an easier-to-read script of the policy and create an animated film.
For improved accessibility we:
- published the script of the film in website text for those preferring to read (such as those using screen readers) and have the additional benefit of Word-Bank definitions.
- theres nothing spoken in the film thats not displayed graphically and vice verse
- the film has voice over and it’s also captioned
Animation is very effective and also worth considering how widely it can be used – NHS England’s national version is freely available and it can be localised with own staff intro’s and outros
Animated example of Transforming Care programme
5. Review your contact us page
Its also worth reviewing your contact us section of your website, can the copy be improved? Would using transport symbols and a map help people with low literacy report abuse in person – such is best practice for Patient Advice Liaison Service in NHS (NHS complaints service). Use PhotoRoute to remove barriers to independent travel.