The Easy-to-Read programme helps to significantly improve quality of life for inhabitants with intellectual or reading disabilities in Lithuania by increasing access to public information and incorporating feedback from users.
A SIMPLIFIED, ALTERNATIVE FORMAT
With only 5% of information currently accessible in Lithuania, the government has set the goal of increasing this share ten times (up to 50%) by 2030. Easy-to-Read is an essential alternative format that simplifies any type of information for people with intellectual disabilities, seniors with dementia, and others experiencing difficulties in comprehending text. Promoted by the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the service seeks to ensure that all residents get equal access to crucial information.
CLEAR AND UNDERSTANDABLE INFORMATION
The Easy-to-Read model combines officially confirmed national guidelines for Lithuanian easy language with legislation on minimal national requirements and recommendations to use Easy-to-Read in the public sector. Easy-to-Read involves people with intellectual disabilities as validators who comment on the clarity of different texts and suggest changes. Moreover, public institutions present important information in an alternative, easy-language form with respect to different target groups, allowing people to request that public institutions adapt certain texts into the Easy-to-Read format.
MANY GROUPS BENEFIT FROM THIS FORMAT
The project's impact is significant, as 420,000 people in Lithuania experience challenges accessing information, and Easy-to-Read is a crucial programme for 35,000 Lithuanian residents with intellectual, psychosocial disabilities, or dementia. Easy-to-Read will enable them to make independent decisions and take more opportunities to participate in public life, like voting in elections. Non-native speakers and people with temporary and long-term health problems may also need Easy-to-Read at some point in their lives. Numerous institutions have already answered the questionnaire about their possibilities to adopt the method, and public-sector employees are already receiving free training by experts. The Government recognised the importance of this topic, as from January 2024, Easy-to-Read will become mandatory for all public institutions in Lithuania - from ministries to hospitals. High-priority texts from institutions will have to be prepared in this format as well. The Consultation Center will invite the respective institutions to check their texts with experts and readers (people with intellectual disabilities). Further, the Lithuanian Parliament approved Easy-to-Read as a legal term in the state.