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Simple English

What is Simple English?

Using Simple English means writing and talking using words that are easy to understand. One rule is that Simple English is a lot like a third grade reading level. Using Plain Language or Simple English is an accessibility issue.

The Problem

Because many individuals use words that are complex and difficult to understand, this presents a problem for individuals that cannot read or understand higher-level language. This is especially a problem for people with I/DD, because they may not understand their rights. 

The Solution

When targeting an audience that may not understand higher-level language, it is important to have an option for Simple English so that everyone is able to understand. While some documents may need to be in legal languages for purposes of laws and official documents, there should also be a translation to Simple English so that everyone can read and understand the document.

Example

Before

  • Right to dignity, privacy, humane care, and freedom from mental and physical abuse, neglect and exploitation 
  • Right to treatment and care based on the normalization principle 
  • Right to confidentiality 

After

  • Dignity is the right to be treated well and be treated with respect 
  • Humane care is freedom from being hit or spoken to in a mean way by staff or your family
  • Abuse is when someone hits you or touches you when you don’t want them to. This should never happen to you. 
  • Neglect is not being helped by the person who is there to help you
  • Exploitation is having things taken from you without asking
  • Normalization principle means that your life should be as much as possible like the lives of people without disabilities 
  •  Confidentiality means your personal information (social security card, i.d. card, credit card, computer passwords, and other personal things) will be kept private  

Want to see more examples?

Ellen has been working for over ten years to convert legal and college-level language to Simple English that everyone can understand! Click the link below to see an entire website full of language Ellen helped edit.