It is with great delight I can announce the article I(Cathy Basterfield) co-write with Mark Starford from BR Centre in the US, has been published in the latest Clarity Journal. The Clarity Journal is published by Clarity, the international association promoting plain legal language.
Below is the summary
Plain Language for Accessibility, Democracy, and Citizenship
2014. Clarity Journal 72(2) pp 22-25.
By Cathy Basterfield and Mark Starford
There is a growing international commitment to deliver information in more accessible ways for individuals with low literacy and comprehension. This article highlights the rights and challenges and features two case stories of how having access to Easy English (Read) increases community inclusion and self-determination.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) sets forth the economic, social and cultural rights to which all human beings are entitled. These fundamental rights of self-determination are essential to eliminating social and political exclusion. Particularly, groups are disadvantaged and marginalized due to ethnicity, caste, economic circumstance, sex, disability, or limited literacy. Human rights principles have been reaffirmed and refined in other international legislation over time. They all reiterate that the ideal of men and women enjoying freedom from fear and what can be achieved if conditions are created when everyone enjoys economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights. The United Nations enacted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) with specific Articles that identify access to understandable information as paramount to freedom, opportunity and full participation. However, in practical terms, what does this mean?
For many communities there have been few changes in how they access and use information that is essential to decision making, health and wellbeing. Governments, human services and social practices can and do marginalise. This happens when governments, human services and social practices continue to neglect the needs of a large but voiceless group that cannot access traditional communication and information systems. Research shows there is a high correlation between lower literacy skills, inferior health outcomes, and reduced functional knowledge of financial obligations. In addition, lower income levels, underemployment, involvement with the justice system and social isolation are also highly correlated. For many, even in developed countries, fluency with and access to communication technology is limited. The reasons are twofold: both literacy and financial means are required to access this technology.
The article is based on the conference presentation Mark and I gave at the Vancouver PLAIN conference in 2013. Plain Language for Democracy and Citizenship
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