Scope - How to make Easy English work for your customers
For businesses and services across Australia, effective communication is essential to keeping customers safe and well during the coronavirus pandemic. However, many written customer communications such as energy bills, bank letters and service updates are not fully accessible because they are not adapted for 44% of Australians who have low English literacy.
Scope is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with physical, intellectual and multiple disabilities to achieve their goals in life. They work with more than 6000 individuals and their families across Victoria in 108 service locations.
In addition to supporting individuals with disabilities, Scope knows that enabling organisations to communicate effectively with customers with disabilities is key to creating inclusive communities where everyone can participate. For these customers, receiving a lot of complex information can increase feelings of anxiety and stress at an already difficult time.
Easy English helps engage all customers
Easy English is a style of writing that uses clear language and images to explain key information.
As Katie Lyon and Caroline Livanos from Scope explained, consulting customers with lived experience of communication disability is key. This includes holding customer focus groups to identify which documents to translate and consumer testing Easy English drafts with people who have low literacy before publishing the finished documents.
Scope’s accessible information partner at Yarra Trams, Louise Hockey, explained how this end-to-end consultation process with people who have low literacy is key to ensuring Easy English documents are effective. Yarra Trams included accessible information as part of their overall Communication Access Symbol accreditation.
Involve marketing and brand early on
Dimitri Georgacopoulos, Affordability Manager at AGL explained how bringing the marketing and brand team on board at the start ensured that the AGL brand look and feel was incorporated throughout their Easy English suite of documents.
Lose “nice to know” information
Internally-focused information like ‘our mission’ and a message from the CEO can usually be deleted without losing meaning and key messages. Focus on what the reader needs to know and what they need to do.
Pay attention to length and order of information
Move the most important information to the beginning of your document.
Shorten words, sentences and the overall length of your documents, and include clear headings throughout – people are time poor and want to find information they need quickly.
Tell people what they need to do with the information
Always include a call to action, contact information and a link to the original document in case people want more information.