The first ever news magazine for people with learning disabilities won an award last night at the highly acclaimed annual Charity Awards.
This prestigious award was given to Easy News, an easy read news magazine launched by the national disability charity, United Response, last year, to make the news and current affairs more accessible to the 1.5 million adults in the UK who have learning disabilities.
The magazine, which was described by one Charity Award judge as being “…a new thing in the world and it is rare to see something genuinely new..” uses simplified text and useful pictures to provide people with learning disabilities with easy to understand, politically neutral summaries of key news stories and events. The stories are selected and translated by UR Consultants, a group of people with learning disabilities who are experts in easy read communication.
The concept for Easy News came from a growing awareness of the fact that people with learning disabilities often find themselves excluded from many areas of everyday life due to a lack of easy to understand information. Back in 2010, United Response launched Every Vote Counts, a campaign to make voting more accessible. Whilst the campaign was successful in increasing the number of people with learning disabilities voting, United Response realised that an accessible source of news was needed all the time for those votes to be meaningful.
A lightbulb moment came in 2011 when disability activist Kaliya Franklin asked United Response to create an accessible news report on a key political debate. This was made available through social media and Kaliya and United Response began planning a bi-monthly accessible newspaper, Easy News.
Since its launch at the beginning of 2013, the magazine has gone from strength to strength with 90 per cent of readers saying it was easier to understand than other news sources while 78 per cent felt that politics was now relevant to their lives, compared to 31 per cent a year before. By the sixth edition, 3,272 people had downloaded it – 250 per cent over target.
Last night, the success of Easy News was recognised with the magazine being announced as the Charity Awards 2014 winner in the category of education and training.
Speaking about the award United Response’s chief executive, Su Sayer, said:
“We are absolutely thrilled with the award. United Response has been campaigning for many years to raise awareness of the need for information to be made easier to understand for people with learning disabilities and to receive such a prestigious award for our work in that area is a huge endorsement.
“So many people have worked hard to turn the concept behind Easy News into a reality and to make it into the success it is today. I would particularly like to highlight the work of the UR Consultants, a group of people with learning disabilities who select the stories and carry out the translation. Their skills really are second to none. Also our president, Martyn Lewis CBE, who has championed Easy News from its inception, from launching the first edition at the House of Commons to making a promotional film to showcase the project. And of course a huge thank you to disability campaigner, Kaliya Franklin, whose ongoing support and creative input has helped to drive this project and has made it possible for us to make news relevant to thousands of people with learning disabilities who were previously excluded.”
About United Response
United Response is a community based charity that works with people with learning disabilities, mental health needs or physical disabilities- including some of the most vulnerable people in our society. To find out more about the work of United Response, please visit: www.unitedresponse.org.uk