Why can’t all documents be Easy Read?

section of the front cover of willing to work report by human rights commissionIf you haven’t seen what an Easy Read document looks like then the report, Willing to Work Easy Read version by the Human Rights Commission, is an excellent example. It contains all the key information in short sentences that suit a wide audience, including people who do not have English as a first language. It is universally designed. So it begs the question, why aren’t all reports written this way? Unless you really need the fine detail, the Easy Read summary version gives most people all the key information quickly and easily.

Black and white logo for easy read, has a tick and a open bookThe Willing to Work report was launched in May 2016. It was a response to the overwhelming number of discrimination complaints relating to employment for both older people and people with disability. It has some interesting facts and shows how poorly we compare to other developed countries around the world in terms of employment. You can download the full report in both PDF and Word from the Human Rights Commission website.

Cathy Basterfield will be making a presentation at the Universal Design Conference on this topic. Her short abstract: “The 44% of the adult population with non-functional literacy are rarely considered in the move for a more inclusive society. Access to information is a critical factor for inclusion and this presentation will show how to plan Easy English in the development of written materials, both printed and online.”ud conference 2016 call for papers


Universal Design and Reasonable Accommodation

Logo for University of Carlos III Madrid SpainWhat is “reasonableness’ in the concept of reasonable accommodation” when it comes to applying accessibility and universal design? Professor Rafael de Asis Roig discusses this philosophical question in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. He contends that the content of universal accessibility is “constrained by three types of circumstances that could be considered as the bounds for what is necessary, possible and reasonable”.

Australian Human Rights Commission logoFor anyone interested in the debate about reasonableness, and the application of “unjustifiable hardship” rulings by the Australian Human Rights Commission, this article explores reasonableness from different perspectives and concludes,

“Therefore, in accordance with the foregoing, it is possible to have a comprehensive vision about reasonableness in the disability domain. This demand makes it necessary to deem a measure as reasonable in the context of disabilities when:

  • It is justified because it adequately provides for full participation in society.
  • It shall be deemed as possible, taking into account the state of scientific, technical and human diversity knowledge.
  • It shall be deemed as a non-discriminatory differentiation or undifferentiation which is not harmful for physical and moral integrity and at the same time does not prevent from meeting basic needs nor avoids participation in society on an equal basis.
  • It shall be deemed as proportional and, therefore, entails more advantages than sacrifices within the context of human rights.
  • It shall be deemed as acceptable by the community to which it is addressed.”

The article, Reasonableness in the Concept of Reasonable Accommodation, was published in The Age of Human Rights Journal, 6 (June 2016)

An earlier unpublished article tackles the issues of human rights and “unjustifiable hardship” in the Australian context by Schraner, Bringolf and Sidoti which discusses the issues from an economic perspective. Written in 2012, it pre-dates the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.


Easy English versions of the UNCRPD

Front cover of Enable Easy Read version of the UN ConventionThe Victorian Government has an easy to read and understand version of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability on their website. Similarly, the South Australian Government has posted the United Nations Enable Easy Read version on their website, complete with illustrations. The Victorian version is designed for service providers and picks out the key points in a table format. The Enable version is more accessible to people who have difficulty with literacy. These documents make for handy ready reference for everyone without having to work through the UN document itself.


The problem is how we think about it

young girl in a classroom setting looking at an iPadTorrie Dunlap gives a first hand account of how she thought people with disability had “special needs” and now realises that this thinking marginalises and separates, particularly when “special arrangements” are made. For universal design to get greater traction, first we need more people like Torrie to make that paradigm shift. Indeed, this Tedx Talk is a really good example to show people who have yet to even consider how they patronise (even just in their thinking).

Cartoon of Santa with his hands held out either side of his bodyTorrie relates real stories of children and how they are treated as special, with special days and special events which are obviously not inclusive. She even tells of a special day for children with disability to visit Santa – why can’t they go any day?  Here is a snippet from her talk:

“A mental model is a deeply ingrained set of beliefs based on assumptions, generalizations, media images, our own experience or lack of it. Basically, how we think about stuff… For many of us, our mental model around disability reflects the medical model – something to fear, something to fix, something to feel sorry for, and that we can feel good when we help less fortunate people. But, what happens when we consciously change our internal model and view disability as neutral, and the environment as a factor? What if we see children with disabilities first as children, and not a diagnosis or as “special?”

The link to the page and video includes a full transcript of the Tedx talk.




NDIS and UD: Designing your personal services

Margaret-Ward1-468x495With the roll out of the NDIS, this is a timely video from Margaret Ward based on her recent work at Griffith University. In the video she explains seven steps which are helpful for both the person with a disability and potential assistive personnel. As user involvement is a basic principle of universal design, tailoring your service and selecting your personnel can be seen as another interpretation of universal design. Services need to be universally designed too!


International Best Practices in Universal Design

Canadian Human Rights commission-engThis 200 page report by the Canadian Human Rights Commission compares a comprehensive range of access features across several countries.  It contains several charts comparing standard requirements and measurements across the many domains of the built environment including aspects such a fire safety, as well as types of buildings.  Although this report was revised in 2007 and may be dated in places, it will be of interest to access consultants and others looking for best practice and specific information about size and dimensions. It is interesting to see how Australia compares in this listing. The report can be downloaded here.



Disability and Development: A handbook

wvaustralia-aiddisability_middleheaderDISABILITY & DEVELOPMENT: How to include persons with disabilities in development cooperation.

Although this manual is aimed at people working on aid programs in developing countries, there are many aspects that could be applied in the Australian context.

The first chapter covers the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the development process supported by the international cooperation. The second chapter relates the collection and analysis of inclusive development appropriate practices based on RIDS members’ experience. The manual ends with a series of recommendations aimed at promoting an effective inclusive development process. The case studies are from many different parts of the world. The manual was published in Italy and translated to English.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have also produced a handbook for Universal Design Principles for Australia’s Aid Program.