By Ciara Lawrence, Accessible Information Officer at Mencap

The UK’s 1.5 million people with a learning disability, like me, have a right to understand the information that affects them. Having access to easy-read information is an important part of this and, with the new rules because of the coronavirus crisis, it has never been more crucial.

Easy-read breaks down jargon and tells people the things they need to know using pictures and short text. But most information isn’t created in easy-read. Every month I receive my bank statement which is never made accessible. Someone has to explain it to me which makes me feel small. I don’t want to have to ask but I do want to understand. 

Yet, when I went for my first smear test, I found loads of easy-read guidance and this really encouraged me. It would have been a lot harder to go if I hadn’t known what to expect. This just shows the impact of easy-read information for people with a learning disability to lead healthy, happy and independent lives.

When lockdown started my world changed. I needed something to help me understand what I could and couldn’t do. So I relied on easy-read information – it was a lifesaver. 

I decided that I needed to do something to help people with a learning disability so I made a video with the cast from Coronation Street about the new rules. So many people messaged me to say thank you because it had helped them to finally understand. 

Mencap has continually created easy-read versions of government guidance so people have the information they need to stay safe. But as lockdown eases, the rules are more complicated. I want to help people understand what they can and can’t do and to safely do more ‘normal’ things, like using public transport and seeing their friends and family. See: www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/coronavirus-covid-19

If we want a more diverse world and to understand the lived experiences of others and about the issues that affect them, then we need to make it accessible. It’s a small, reasonable adjustment. 

Creating easy-read information also makes people think about how the world looks differently to other people. It’s all pretty easy – it’s about us working together to help each other.  

For easy-read information and advice about coronavirus, visit Mencap’s website. 

www.mencap.org.uk

Learning Disability Helpline. 

Tel: 0808 808 1111

Email: helpline@mencap.org.uk