Health-based information for people with intellectual disabilities: an investigation into the linguistic properties of 'easy read' literature and its contribution to the construction of meaning. The Easy Read Project

Buell, Susan (2017) Health-based information for people with intellectual disabilities: an investigation into the linguistic properties of 'easy read' literature and its contribution to the construction of meaning. The Easy Read Project. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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    Abstract

    Health information is often conveyed in printed or digital form. This can present challenges to people with intellectual disabilities, many of whom experience literacy difficulties and are therefore disadvantaged in reading and understanding such information. ‘Easy read’ versions of health-related documents purport to circumvent these difficulties, but there is little evidence to demonstrate their effectiveness in doing so. The aim of the current research was to address how effective adapted health-based ‘easy read’ literature was in contributing to the construction of meaning for people with intellectual disabilities. Four studies investigated different areas of ‘easy read’ information and its use. 1. A survey compared presentational features found in ‘easy read’ and ‘non-easy read’ literature published by the UK Department of Health and aligned these with advice given in published guidelines for ‘easy read’ material. 2. Critical differences between the linguistic features in these two groups of documents were analysed using specialised software. 3. A systematic qualitative linguistic analysis was undertaken to investigate the subtleties conveyed through the discourse of ‘non-easy read’ compared to ‘easy read’ texts. 4. Finally, a randomised experiment tested the effects of linguistic simplification and literacy mediation on the understanding of ‘easy read’ information with sixty participants with intellectual disabilities. When material was compared to its ‘non-easy read’ counterparts it showed that clear differences had been rendered by authors of the ‘easy read’ documentation. These differences were indicative of presentational changes and reduced linguistic complexity. They did not appear to translate into more effective understanding of content by people with intellectual disabilities, whether human mediation was present or not. Individual capacity for language, however, was shown to be integral to the construction of meaning from ‘easy read material’. This has implications for both the production and the use of ‘easy read’ material in practice.

    Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
    Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
    Depositing User: Megan Ruddock
    Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2017 09:06
    Last Modified: 29 Nov 2017 09:06
    URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/65618
    DOI:

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