Easy News is the first newspaper to be created specifically for the 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK. It includes news stories which have been translated into an “easy read” format by United Response consultants, a specialist team of people with learning disabilities employed by the charity United Response.
The easy read format uses simple language and visual cues to make information accessible to people who may have difficulty reading. For this reason, Easy News looks different from other newspapers and will appear less frequently, as translating the stories takes significant time.
However, it is a newspaper in the most important sense: it tells people what is happening in the world in a factual, unbiased way that they can understand.
Nick Smith and John Nettles, two of the United Response consultants, discuss the creation of the first edition of Easy News. Nick and John are also housemates.
Nick: I have always liked to keep up with the news, BBC and ITV, things like that. And I read about the news on the internet sometimes. We do sometimes share a newspaper around the house …
John: But I have problems with reading. Which is a shame because I do think the news matters. It helps us learn what’s going on in the world and around us.
Nick: There’s always trouble, isn’t there? But I do think it’s important to learn what’s going on in real life, to find out what’s happening. I think keeping up with the news is good for everybody, it shouldn’t just be for people who can read well.
John: Like that place, Winterbourne View. The one where the carers were hitting the disabled people. That got me upset. I just wanted to stop it. So everyone should get to know about things like that. That’s why [Easy News] matters.
Nick: It was interesting working on Easy News. We learned lots of things and it really got the brain going.
John: I think it’s really good. We made it so the writing is really big and the pictures are right next to each other. It really helps me understand it. It’s just a good idea.
Nick: It was hard not to give our opinions though. Just to keep it to the facts.
John: Yeah. I don’t like it that everything’s shutting, I don’t understand why it’s happening. HMV is gone now. David Cameron is stealing my DVDs! [Laughs]
Nick: I just want people to read it and think it’s good. And that it’s good for everybody, including disabled people.
John: I’d like to sit down with them all and explain what we did and what the stories are about. I like the fact you can look through it with somebody. And I’m looking forward to the next one, because there’ll be new stories then.
Nick: Yes. And we’ll get paid again! [Both laugh]
Interview by Jamie Gill
Article by Nick Smith & John Nettles at The Guardian