The international perspective on Easy English and Easy Read: the journey forward

Ms Cathy Basterfield1

1Access Easy English, Mentone, Australia

Accessible Written Information is being developed for people with an intellectual disability in Australia and internationally. This has been occurring in different parts of the world for over 20 years now. The labels most often used are Easy English, Easy Read or Easy to Read. To date these labels in Australia are often used interchangeably where documents labelled Easy English and Easy Read are both widely available.

This paper will present a review of national and international perspectives on developing content with and for people with intellectual disability. It will present this with reference to international and national legislation, policies, practices and current research including grey literature, and what this means for developing evidence based practice accessible written information for people with intellectual disability.

A review of current practices, policies and research from around the world was undertaken in 2019. Content and discussion from IASSIDD 2019 (August 2019), PLAIN International 2019 (September) and Easy to Read (KLAARA) International (September 2019) will also be included in this review.

There is research and discussion occurring on the effectiveness or not of the various types of Accessible Written Information. This review provides an up to date analysis on Easy English, Easy Read and Easy-to-Read.

This data will continue to drive the conversations about the development of meaningful accessible written content for people with intellectual disability. We need to work together to move the journey forward.


Cathy Basterfield is an experienced Speech Pathologist, with a background of 30 years working with people with Complex Communication Needs and Easy English. Cathy was awarded a Victorian Government Ethel Temby scholarship for an investigative study into international trends and accreditation for Easy English writing and publications in 2011. Acknowledged by her peers as a highly skilled practitioner in the field of Easy English, Cathy was involved in the development of the first guidelines for writing Easy English in Australia. In 2014, the Victorian State Government commissioned her to develop Easy English How to comply with the Victorian Government Accessible Communication Guidelines, which is available on their Intranet. Cathy has a national and international reputation in the development of Easy English. Based in Melbourne, Cathy owns and operates Access Easy English. She works across all states in Australia working with government, non government agencies and businesses in their implementation of Easy English.

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