The Impact of Plain Language and Easy Read for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Date: April 25, 2023
Plain language can be a useful tool for promoting accessibility and inclusion. However, with the lack of standardization of creating and measuring the effectiveness of plain language, it can cause for it not being used in a variety of scenarios. In this presentation, I will share the findings of a scoping review assessing the effectiveness and best practices around plain language for cognitive accessibility. Plain language simplifies complex sentence structures and words to make it more understandable for more readers, including those with intellectual disabilities. However, little research exists on how it is currently understood in the academic literature, as well as application and best practices. The searching process initially yielded 302 results, with fourteen studies eventually included. Preliminary findings suggest that a vast majority of work on plain language was completed in the last five years with an overwhelming focus on health-related information. There appears to be very little uniformity in definitions for plain language, making comparisons difficult. This inconsistency likely impacts both the quality of research and the consistency of plain language as a method of cognitive accessibility. In the future, it would be necessary to research the best practices for writing and evaluating plain language to standardize the production of plain language through the development of universal guidelines. By conducting this research, it can lead to the universal guidelines being implemented in more areas such as health care, care, and so forth, which leads to more opportunities for inclusion and accessibility for people with intellectual disabilities.
About the Speaker
Isabella Garza is an undergraduate student at the University of Toledo. In May, she will be graduating with a major in Disability Studies and a minor in Spanish. In the fall, she is hoping to attend the University of Toledo to pursue her master’s of education in special education. During the summer of 2021, Isabella began her research through the Undergraduate Summer Research Program and presented at the 2021 Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Exhibition where she was an award finalist. After receiving feedback from the exhibition, she continued developing her research and defended it as her honors thesis in December of 2022 where she passed and will be granted departmental honors. Her professional experience consists of working in various positions with adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Additionally, Isabella is the instructor for an adaptive fitness and dance class, Dance, Move & Groove.
- Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE), College of Education, University of Maryland
- Office of Undergraduate Studies (UGST), University of Maryland
- The Graduate School’s Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion (OGDI), University of Maryland