A review has been published in the Health Expectations Journal looking at the impact of ‘accessible’ health information for people with intellectual disabilities.
The author highlights that there is no single definition of accessible information, and that a range of views include a ‘skew’ towards easy read, alongside the importance of the mode of delivery of information, and the involvement of people with intellectual disability in creating accessible information resources.
The review looked at 42 papers published before December 2015. The papers were grouped into 5 categories, and the evaluation data within them was analysed:
- Practitioner accounts (mainly authored by clinicians): positive view of the resources but a lack of detail in the evaluation of actual impact.
- People with intellectual disabilities as resource evaluators: Many participants in these studies were appreciative of efforts to make written information more accessible. However, in most of these papers, limitations in the accessible information were highlighted, particularly ambiguous visual images and wordings, having too much information, being too difficult to read, even for “competent readers”. Some authors pointed out how simplifying a visual image or written information made its meaning less, rather than more clear.
- People with intellectual disabilities reflecting on process of creating resources: The three studies in this area were papers authored or co-authored by people with intellectual disabilities, or referred to work authored by someone with intellectual disabilities. These papers highlighted an awareness of how creation and use of written information engage not only the cognitive aspects of the self, but also sociality and emotion.
- Observations of accessible information in use: The papers described ways in which the adaptation was personalized for the individual with intellectual disabilities. The role of supporters and the importance of their expertise in facilitating use of accessible information were highlighted. They emphasized the importance of prior assessment of individual communicative capacities and needs and of the mode of delivery of adapted information
- Evaluation of effects of accessible information: These papers aimed to evaluate the actual use of adaptations to make information more accessible to people with intellectual disabilities. Where understanding of the texts was assessed as an outcome measure, and adapted and non-adapted texts were compared, only one of these studies found an advantage for groups who had been given information that had been simplified linguistically or otherwise adapted to make it easier to understand.
The authors conclude that there was no clear consensus among the papers reviewed as to what constituted the most important impacts of adapted health information, how to measure these or what would constitute an acceptable degree of quality in evaluation.
However, they identify that the reviewed literature does suggest that adapted health information has a better chance of making an impact when it is tailored to an individual’s individual requirements for information and communicative support.
You can read the full review here.
Deborah Chinn BA (Hons), Dip Clin Psych, PhD, Claire Homeyard RM, BSc (Hons), MSc
Easy read and accessible information for people with intellectual disabilities: Is it worth it? A meta-narrative literature review