There is currently very little research literature focused on developing easy English materials for Australians with disabilities of culturally diverse backgrounds.
According to results from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey released in 2012, about 44% of Australian adults (aged 15-65 years) do not have the literacy skills to read a range of day to day reading tasks. This equates to 7.3 million adult Australians.
In February 2021, Speak My Language (SML) together with Cathy Basterfield from Access Easy English provided a brief survey to help gather the wisdom of hundreds of agencies that have worked closely with people with disabilities from culturally diverse communities for decades.
Speak My Language believes collecting practitioner wisdom is a vital step for identifying current practice and working towards evidence-based practice.
We at Speak My Language want to ensure people of culturally diverse backgrounds with disabilities have accessible and culturally appropriate information about their rights and choices.
By developing easy English materials, and considering their translation into languages other than English, is an important component in the development of easy English materials for the SML program.
What we found:
We discovered important findings from the TEST READERS (people of culturally diverse backgrounds, with disability, who have very low literacy):
- Only one person knew what the acronym "NDIS" meant.
- No one knew what a "Podcast" is.
- Our training material terminology was too confusing (Traveller, Storyteller, Story Subject).
- It didn't help to write the acronym SML or ECCNSW - this means nothing to them. It is "us" and "you"
- Religion was mentioned as an example of cultural difference.
In the process we at SML, along with our Advisory Group consisting of State and Territory Ethnic and Multicultural Communities Council across Australia, discovered this surprising gap in research and received great feedback from the consumer regarding the development of easy English training materials for the SML program.
“It is very user friendly”
“I wish everything was like this”
“The simple pictures are the best”
“Images of people from different cultures – all liked the group photo
They flow and capture enough demographic”.
We know the sector has wisdom, and as a partnership of all State and Territory Ethnic and Multicultural Communities' Councils across Australia, we believe it is essential that this wisdom is gathered, recognised, celebrated, and built upon.
About Speak My Language
The Speak My Language (SML) program – culturally diverse communities talking about living well with a disability - is a national initiative funded by the Department of Social Services under the Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) National Information Program 2020-2022.
The program will be delivered via a partnership between all State and Territory Multicultural Councils, and Ethnic and Multicultural Communities' Councils around Australia. The Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW (ECCNSW) is the lead agency hosting the National Team and supported by a Partner Agency Group.
The Speak My Language program will involve 100's of people with a disability from culturally diverse communities talking about providing practical tips on how individuals with disabilities, and their families, can use personal skills and community resources to live well, wherever they are.
Additional interviews with guest speakers will provide up-to-date information about inclusive places, activities, and opportunities.
We plan to use the power of storytelling to empower communities to live well at home, in the community, at work, school, study or at play. Real stories from people with disabilities who are living well and information from guest speakers, will be shared as podcasts and/or radio broadcasts in up to 25 community languages.
A key point of difference of SML is to focus on and promote mainstream, community-based, and inclusive people, places, activities, and opportunities in contemporary multicultural Australia.