EASIT – Evento 6 – Treinamento de acesso fácil para inclusão social
EASIT Online Multiplier Event 6: »Audiovisual journalism and easy to understand language«
Transcrição das mesas redondas do sexto evento do projeto EASIT – Easy Access for Social Inclusion Training
Você pode usar a ferramenta do Google Translate dentro da Inclusive, na barra do lado esquerdo para traduzir o texto.
Round table 2 (Information, language and end users’ needs – professional perspective)
Guests: Ulla Bohman, Christiane Maaß and Óscar García Muñoz. Moderated by Tatjana Knapp.
TATJANA KNAPP: Welcome to the discussion With some of the European top experts on questions of easy language or easy-to-read and easy-to-understand information. Here with me today are Dr. Christiane Maaß, a professor and leader of the research centre for easy language at one of the EASIT partner organisations, University of Hildesheim. Then there is Ulla Bohman, an independent expert with 30+ years of experience in the field, who worked in many NGOs and national agencies, and finally Óscar García Muñoz, an accessibility expert from Plena Inclusión Madrid. Thank you all for being here today. So, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Europe, what are in your opinion and knowledge some of the current most exciting developments in the field of easy-to-understand information, and adding to this, is this enough? Where do we want to be? So please, the floor is yours.
CHRISTIANE MAASS: I can start if you want. The most exciting development in my eyes is really the kind of cooperation of different experts from different countries, which is in this extent that we witness now, which is new, which is new to me. We have done a lot of research, during the last but we were occupied with our situation, but in the last 5 years it has led to a situation where we know, also who is in the field in other languages and other countries. And I really appreciate the situation.
ÓSCAR GARCÍA MUÑOZ: I think that there is a huge interest across Europe. And in other parts of the world about what easy-to-read language is, and how to create standards and procedures to create a good quality product. Because I think that there are large discussions about this point. And the contributions that are made about this kind of projects, at EASIT or currently Train2Validate or other kind of developments of sistematization in Germany or Spain… I think they are building something new in the field of accessibility because sometimes we find that it takes a long time to establish something in accessibility. but in the case of easy-to read there has been a boom in last 10 years.
ULLA BOHMAN: And in Sweden, I must agree with you, Christiane, that I also feel that the most exciting development right now is international cooperation. And also, if we can continue and benefit and share experiences from academic and research world and the practitioners… Because I think that this is crucial. I see changes of perspective. There used to be a division between practitioners on the one hand, and researchers on the other. There was very little cooperation between the two. And it’s crucial to keep in close contact with the final users, the target groups. And… And one way of doing it is to cooperate. Another thing that is positive right now in Sweden is that there are a couple more publishing houses which are specialising in literature, in easy language or easy-to-read language. They also help making the whole concept of easy-to-read accessible, but also more spread, which is good for everyone. Because if you don’t know that there actually is information or literature in easy language, you won’t ask for it. You need to have the knowledge. If many people work on this, then we will help each other to spread the information that you can actually demand, that you have the right to access to both literature and information in a version which you as a citizen can read and understand.
KNAPP: Thank you so much for these perspectives. What about the areas you’re most involved with as regarding easy-to-understand information, easy language… What would be the current most interesting challenges, or what is currently the biggest challenge for you personally as an expert in the field of easy-to-read, or for your country, or in the perspective of wider European place? What do you think?
MAASS: I see two things that are exciting, but are also challenges. One thing is the media perspective. Which means… We talk about easy-to-read, but now we see that we need accessible information in different types of mediality, like the audiovisual information which is also the core of the EASIT project, to transfer the easy-to-read perspective to the audiovisual, where we are mostly with easy language. In different types of representation. And the other thing is technical communication expert domains that are open to open to easy language or more comprehensible forms of communication. In Germany for example, it all started with legal, political communication. But now we see great developments in the medical field. So, medical communication which really opens up to accessible communication. There’s a lot to be done, because you have different perspectives. Medical communication has to work in any given situation. We have to adapt the forms that are used, or the information about different kinds of situations, which is a huge challenge, but also very beautiful to explore together with the experts from the medical field. So this is where we are at the moment, where we do most of our work at the moment.
KNAPP: Óscar, what do you think? What us your experience? What are the main challenges? Is Spain now also focused on medical communication? There are endless possibilities out there with different professions working together and bringing the information to the people more successfully.
GARCÍA MUÑOZ: I perceive that easy-to-read, easy language, these kinds of fields are still very much a focus of non-profit organisations, and miss the market perspective. I think that easy-to-read is a language and that all this kind of development should be included in the market development to be extended to all population. For instance, we as a non-profit organisation have a narrow perspective about how many people we can take into easy-to-read. But if this concept was spread more in the society and the market, we could reach more people, more beneficiaries. So, this is one challenge I think we have to go from social perspective to market perspective to enlarge the population that can benefit from it. The second is the role of end users. I think that the accessibility has always missed this perspective. It’s like in an illustration: All for the people without the people. In easy-to-read and easy language we’ve included from the start the perspective of the end user. And this is the way forward. To reinforce the perception of the needs from them, in order to create publications that really meet the expectations.
BOHMAN: Right now, the greatest challenge in Sweden is… I think that easy-to-read or easy language is generally accepted. We’ve been working with it, it can be found in both public information and public websites. You find it in literature, we have an easy-to-read newspaper… There are easy-to understand news on the national radio. But I think the big challenge right now is that very little is done at national level, to hold together the definition of what easy language is. And to kind of set the standard and also to check what is being produced and to give feedback to some of the productions that call themselves easy language. But they are not. That’s something that I think moved backwards in Sweden for the last five or six years since the centre for easy-to-read was closed, and there’s not really… Even though there is an agency that supposed to be in charge, it hasn’t taken the leading role in steering the development of easy language in all sorts of products, all sorts of material. And this is a challenge for the future in Sweden. It’s similar to the challenge at international level. That we have a common ground, a common definition of what easy language or easy-to-read is. Right now there are too many products. It can be public information or it can be literature… They represent it as easy language, but it’s not. That is the challenge that we have. As Óscar said, the NGOs, non-governmental and non-profit organisations… They’re the ones doing the main work right now. To promote and to keep the easy language on the agenda nationwide.
KNAPP: It’s the same in Slovenia. You’ve raised so many good points for the discussion. I’m from organisation working with validators and end users. We already mentioned this. I’d appreciate your perspective on the role of end users in preparing, publishing and promoting easy to understand information in easy language. How do we best meet the needs and wishes of the end users? Perhaps Óscar? Would you like to start?
GARCÍA MUÑOZ: Okay. I really believe that the role of people with reading difficulties in the process of production of easy-to-read, for example, is very relevant, because… We’ve perceived that writers with a lot of experiences can always find difficulties in writing an easy-to-read text. From the perspective of final readers, it is very important to detect these missing points or difficulties in order to improve the final text. We’ve actually developed a system of training in Spain, in our organisation, in which we train people with intellectual disabilities in order to become validators, end user testers. This part is very important for us for the final product. Of course, I think training is very important. That’s why we started this project. And maybe the support from researchers in order to make improvements in conducting these sessions, these working sessions. This is important. The information we receive is important. There is a demand for it, and we need easy-to-read now. We can’t cooperate, but we can provide solutions right now.
BOHMAN: And the experience I have… I run a lot of courses and workshops in how to write easy-to-understand, easy-to-read texts. One thing that I always tell participants that they should… A typical participant is a person who works for the municipality, for example. It’s not a person who works directly with the end users. But they have the obligation that the information they put together is accessible also for this target group. I also give the advice, ‘Test your text, test your information.’ It doesn’t need to be this big, scientifically correct or validated test. It would be enough to ask you neighbour’s son or anyone that you have… That you know. Anyone from your surroundings who has reading difficulties, or is part of the target group for this specific information. Ask that person to read it and give you feedback. You don’t need to put together a huge research group and making everything really time consuming and difficult. One step to make it more accessible for the intended target group is to reach out to some of the people in the intended target group and ask them to give you feedback.
KNAPP: Thank you so much. Christiane, what’s the researchers or academia perspective of this?
MAASS: From the researchers’ point of view, this situation is quite tricky one. I’ll start with the situation in Germany. We do have a market for easy language translation. This market is competitive. On the one side there are the suppliers or translators who work with the target groups, and check each text they translate. Which means they perhaps aren’t expert translators, but they are close to the target groups. The more technical the text becomes, namely if it’s from medical or legal communication, the more probable is that it will be proofread, but not correct. But we need functional texts on the market. On the other hand, we try to encourage professional translators to become easy language translators. They will not have target group tests at the end, because this makes the process expensive. You can either pay the target group or the translator. So, we have a dilemma. A marketing one. From the research point of view… Or, I can say that we need both. We have so many text types that are not easily tested with the target groups. They don’t know the target situation for example. Or the target situation is confidential. We have easy language for legal processes where people are examined and need to know the test results. You can’t give this to the target group, since it’s confidential. We did all types of settings, but of course, to test or to have texts that are produced in inclusive settings, has value as such, and this value… In my mind or as far as the research is concerned, it’s not primarily the question about the comprehensibility. There is another perspective, for example, to make people visible in the public, to make people with disabilities visible, to make inclusive text production processes visible, to make possible to create such texts in inclusive settings… This is a value that need to be paid for. But this isn’t about comprehensibility. So, I’m actually sceptical about whether we talk about comprehensibility here. It’s possible to train, and we have a master programme in accessible communication where students are in contact with the target groups and learn how to make texts. At the end they’re able to make very comprehensible texts. There is a question whether to use inclusive settings or not. I think we need both, because we need a lot of texts. It’s important to judge for each situation which process would work best.
BOHMAN: I agree with you on this, Christiane, because… I’ve been working with easy language for so many years. And I find over and over again that there isn’t a… That there isn’t a format or a template you could use all the time. Texts will be different in relation to the target group and the specific subject. And the time when the reader is going to have access to the text and information. So, it’s impossible to make a template that you can use every time. You always have to consider the target group, the specific time and environment. And the type of media that you’re using.
GARCÍA MUÑOZ: My perception… We have conducted adaptations and have written leaflets, medical leaflets. And conducted validation with thirty people with intellectual disabilities to obtain different points of view from different people. There have been many comments about the difficulties with understanding those texts. I think it is about comprehensibility, because in the context of what people perceive, how they process something from the cognitive perspective. Judging by my experiences, of course. We have produced similar kinds of different texts: legal, training, medical and so on. We’ve considered the validation, and it worked. It wasn’t so expensive from the financial point of view. And it wasn’t too time consuming. We’ve developed a procedure of reduction of easy-to-read in which we are competitive and have quite a big demand. From people with disabilities, considering their amendments and comments.
KNAPP: Christiane, perhaps?
MAASS: Of course, we have to produce texts that are easy to understand. But I think it’s possible to teach and to learn how to make such texts, and the question is, do we talk about how comprehensible the text is. I’m convinced that it is possible to make such texts also without an inclusive setting. That they are as comprehensible as they can be. There are a lot of texts that are created in inclusive settings are less comprehensible than the texts we make as experts for comprehensiveness. But that’s not the point, is it? The question is whether you want an inclusive setting. From both market and research point of view, there is no legitimation to reduce the number of texts for people in different situations, because the texts will be slower and more expensive. In Germany, we have problems with finding organisations that make texts fast enough and in amounts we can produce outside the inclusive settings. Of course, I’m not against inclusive texts, I think they are valuable and we have to have them, but we need to check in which environments we can afford to slow down the text production. We speak about subtitles for example, about audio description, etc. We will have automated solutions, machine translation for easy language. The corpora are being built at the moment. There will be automatic versions and they will be part of easy language. This will come anyway, at the latest with the European Accessibility Act, because the amount is so great that it will slow down communication if we don’t open to diverse forms of text production, including inclusive text production. I’m pretty sure that we can’t do all texts in an inclusive environment.
KNAPP: Can the machine learning be developed without the input of the end users?
MAASS: Machine translation is developed on the existing texts. They are made with or without inclusive settings. This is the basis for machine learning. These corpora are being assembled, and once there is a certain number of corpora, this will happen.
GARCÍA MUÑOZ: It will, but I think that machine learning will fail, if it doesn’t include the perspective of people. The perspective of the user is in the end the most important. Texts are going to be used by people. So, the solution is not in the machines only. The machines have to be managed by people, and in the interest of the people. I agree that the technology will come. Let’s go back to what Christiane said about subtitling. From the point of view of my organisation working with people with intellectual disabilities… We wonder if subtitling is the best solution for our group, because they listen for instance a film or a TV show, and if they read different text in the subtitles, even the text is easy-to-read, they don’t understand, as it is different from what they hear. I think that this kind of solution is not for certain groups. But it helps the elderly. The discussion maybe is what kind of target and what kind of solution. And I always say, ‘The answer is segmentation.’ Not all solutions are useful to all people. Plain language is possibly not the best solution for people with reading difficulties, but for us. If we read a leaflet or an act in easy language, it will be very helpful. But a text in easy language also needs a rewriting for easy-to-read for other kind of people. I think that segmentation is the key word in this case for a huge amount of text and different users. For a large target group that we deal with.
BOHMAN: And there isn’t a quick fix that can solve all the needs of different people. We have to accept there is a need for variety. The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities says that you have the right to the access of information in a format that is accessible to you as an individual. Therefore, we have to make sure that there is a variety of ways of accessing both literature and public information. And if this means subtitles or a read speaker function, or with pictures, or in an easy language text… You have the right to get the information in a format that works for you.
KNAPP: Any more thoughts on this? I think we can all agree that this is indeed an exciting area to get into. Perhaps to many people watching and listening to our conversations. Who are people who are interested in becoming professionals? Also end users as validators? In the field of easy-to-understand information. Who are they? What does it take to do this and make a difference? We’ve heard that the needs are great and real. Any advice? How to get into this field and start working? Because we need all these accessible materials. Christiane, perhaps you?
MAASS: Okay. We have a master programme, Accessible Communication, and have basically two types of students. One type are regular BA students who find this field exciting, the others are practitioners working in different positions, and accessible communication becomes an issue in their agencies or their organisations. They return to the university to get a degree. But they all share the excitement to do something in order to make people understand that this is really… I also teach in other translation master programmes, but people in this field are very committed. They want to make themselves understood. They want contact with people with handicaps, with the target groups, so they’re very committed to their course of study and they finish their studies to greater extent than students in other programmes. Their commitment is really felt. I like very much about this area that there are a lot of people who want to be there and communicate, and they want to reach out to people with different needs.
KNAPP: That’s very good news! Ulla and Óscar?
BOHMAN: I can go first. In order to learn how to write in easy language, I think you need to find a way to get information about what could be difficult. You change your perspective instead of trying to show your knowledge to everyone else. To look at what the target group needs. And one way of finding that is to get to know the target group and the difficulties the target group is facing with all sorts of information or all sorts of texts. And then it is practising and practising and practising again. And… Also, to be very open-minded about getting feedback, sometimes a negative one, of what you have produced. So, it is learning by doing. Hopefully you can find some training. In Sweden, we don’t have it at universities. You can’t sign up for a course where you learn how to write accessible, but there are private consultants like myself, offering training. But you have to have knowledge about target groups and their difficulties, or you can’t do it.
KNAPP: Okay. Óscar?
GARCÍA MUÑOZ: In Spain, training is also very limited. Non-profit organisations are the main producers. We miss the possibility to find courses at the universities. Which would be rather more attractive for people who are interested in this field. They always ask if they get a certificate for the studies of easy-to-read, easy or plain language, anything. I know that the Autonomous University of Barcelona has a programme. They want to begin after this summer. There are certain universities in Spain, but they have only a lesson inside the post-graduate studies of universal accessibility. Unfortunately, we don’t have a thorough programme, apart from what we as non-profit organisations offer. We have longer courses of several hours, but that’s not the same as a certificate from the university. So, as Ulla said, learning by doing, taking this initial course as a reference, and then hoping that in the future there will be, because of the high demand, new opportunities for study at a university. Participating at projects like EASIT or Train2Validate that provides some kind of certification or at least a basis for certification.
KNAPP: Óscar, Ulla, Christiane, thank you so much for all the work you do and thank you for joining me for this online round-table. Would you like to add something at the end of our discussion, which I enjoyed very much. Thank you for this, too.
BOHMAN: I have one thing to point out. It’s better to take one small step towards accessibility and easy language and accessible text and information than to not take any steps at all.
KNAPP: Thank you so much.
GARCÍA MUÑOZ: I would add that the projects we are developing are very relevant for focusing on what is relevant in our fields and to make the society aware that easy language as a whole concept is very important for inclusion, so we have to appreciate such projects and the cooperation it creates in order to improve the solutions.
MAASS: I’d like to go back to the first question you asked. What is so exciting? I wish we’d continue this international collaboration with joint projects as we had done with EASIT and a handbook of easy languages in Europe. And more to come. I’m really glad that we now know each other and I think that great years lie ahead of us.
KNAPP: Thank you again. I think we are really looking forward to the international discussions that are yet to come. Perhaps… Not perhaps, this was actually one of them. Thanks again and best of luck.
GARCIA MUNOZ, BOHMAN, MAASS: Thank you very much. Bye.
Regardless, in our experience, final products based on drafts that had been made by even the most experienced authors of Easy language texts, are always of better quality and easier to read and understand if they were validated. There is always some issue that becomes clear in the process of validating.
So, in our experience and view, validators are essential co-workers in the process of producing and publishing Easy language texts. We would recommend engaging them throughout the process, from selecting the theme to publishing and promoting the final product.
As for Plain language, it is generally not discussed, researched, or used in Slovenia. Yet. The concept of Plain language does not predict the involvement of validators.
To learn more on this topic, I would suggest looking at the EASIT training materials that address the topic of the validation, mainly in Units 2 and 4.
We consider that the user perspective has to be taken into account, because they are our goal and creating products without customers can drive to a failure.
Round table 3 (Role of the validators: End users’ participation is vital for the quality of the programme and progress in accessibility)
TATJANA KNAPP: Let me welcome three test readers with several years’ experience: Mojca Šmon, Nevenka Kos and Nejko Perko. Hello, and thank you for joining me. The participants of the event would like to know what easy-to-read means to you and how you feel about working as a test reader. Can we start with you, Nevenka?
NEVENKA KOS: Easy-to-read project means a lot to me, it is very important. Not only for us, who have problems understanding, but for other groups of readers as well. A lot more things should be written in easy-to-understand language. I think this should be defined by law.
TATJANA KNAPP: Thank you, Nevenka. What about you, Mojca?
MOJCA ŠMON: Easy-to-read-materials are very useful for me too. This helps me to understand, it is easier to imagine things … Well, things, and how to understand them.
TATJANA KNAPP: Nejko, what does easy-to-read mean for you?
NEJKO PERKO: Easy-to-read materials are very important to me, because they include certain things that should really be changed. This goes for books, television and other media.
TATJANA KNAPP: What does the work of validator mean to you? As I mentioned, you have been validators for quite some time. What does it mean to you? Is it a burden, does it bring you joy? Nevenka?
NEVENKA KOS: I feel that validator’s work is very important. I don’t think it’s a burden, it’s a challenge. I feel it could almost be a job.
TATJANA KNAPP: Great. We will come back to test reading as a job. Mojca, what do you say?
MOJCA ŠMON: Just as Nevenka said, working on easy-to-read materials is a challenge for me as well. I’m happy … It is my pleasure to help with easy-to-read materials, because I know I will benefit from easy-to-read text.
TATJANA KNAPP: Thank you. Nejko, what does it mean for you to be a test reader for easy-to-read materials?
NEJKO PERKO: It relaxes me, I am happy to work. Other people should learn about our work as well, especially those who are not aware of these needs. I would like to ask the parliament to pass the law on easy-to-read materials.
TATJANA KNAPP: Thank you very much. Let’s talk about testing, when you test easy-to-read texts. I have two questions if you can answer them. What do we need to be careful about while we test such texts, and, can anybody do it? So, what do we have to be careful about, when we get a text and say, we are going to test it? What do we need to pay attention to, Nevenka?
NEVENKA KOS: Firstly, to the size of the letters. And that there is not too much information in one sentence. I mean, you have to pay attention to a lot of things. Well … It’s demanding. It can’t be done by just anybody. If you are writing, you have to know who you are writing for, what you want to tell them, and how. If people think such things are easy to write, they are mistaken.
TATJANA KNAPP: Nejko, to sum up, Nevenka and Mojca have mentioned that we need to be careful about sentences and words. And you must also pay attention to the images. What do you think, Nejko? In your experience, what do you have to pay attention to when testing easy-to-read things or can anyone do it?
NEJKO PERKO: When testing easy-to-read things, you need to make sure that the sentences are not too long and numbers are written with words. Pictures need to be clear and complete. Easy-to-read materials cannot be made by anybody, you need to be trained to do this.
TATJANA KNAPP: This is another valuable thing you mentioned. European project Erasmus+ Train2Validate will include training for test readers validators who will receive a special diploma at the end, certifying they’ve completed the training. They will become test readers with a certificate, a diploma. Do you feel that testing easy-to-read materials, being a test reader validator, could be your job? Nevenka?
NEVENKA KOS: It could be a job. Because it is sort of work. If you sew up a piece of clothing, you can show it. But test reading is a mental job, it is quite difficult. It’s not like … So it is … -It’s not like work, where you sew something up, and you have something to show. With easy-to-read-texts there is nothing to see at first, it’s a lot of work, but in the end, when the thing is in your hands, let’s say a book or something, the thing we tested, then you see. Until you do it yourself, you don’t know how much work it takes.
TATJANA KNAPP: Thanks, Nevenka. Mojca, what do you think? Could you be a test reader? Could that be your job?
MOJCA ŠMON: Yes, it could be. It would be a big challenge for me. It would be something new. I could show more, contribute more.
TATJANA KNAPP: Nejko, what are your feelings? Could testing easy-to-read materials or the process of preparing easy-to-read materials be your job?
NEJKO PERKO: Work related with easy-to-read materials could be my job, because it helps to train my mind and I understand different words. And I also like to help everyone and … This year, I hope to become a representative for easy-to-read project, to get something. But easy-to-read texts are important for all people, especially for those who have trouble reading and understanding words.
TATJANA KNAPP: At the end, what would be your message? Would you like to say something to the people joining us, or to the people watching and listening now? What would you tell people about easy-to-read texts? Nevenka, what would you say?
NEVENKA KOS: I think this will be very important in the future. It is and will be important. It’s a big challenge for testers, and for those who write. And it really could also be a job, now we do it voluntarily, but it could be a job, because it is real work. I think so. -So, you feel the job aspect is important?
TATJANA KNAPP: Mojca, a few words maybe?
MOJCA ŠMON: I feel that easy-to-read texts … That difficult texts can be changed into easy-to-read texts.
TATJANA KNAPP: Great. Can any difficult text be changed into easy-to-read text?
MOJCA ŠMON: I think we could do it.
TATJANA KNAPP Nejko, what final word do you have for the participants of our event?
NEJKO PERKO: Easy-to-read materials are important for everybody, especially for people who have problems understanding. it needs to be taken into consideration. I ask the participants, the government and the parliament to support the new law. Thank … -Easy-to-read texts help a person learn, sharpen the mind, understand, and help other people who do not understand easy-to-read texts. I am also an ambassador, and I contribute a lot to easy-to-read texts. I ask the government to hear our suggestions.
TATJANA KNAPP: Thank you all for all the work that you do, and for all your answers today. Just a quick question for the end: What would you suggest to someone who wants to work on easy-to-read texts, to become a test reader? What advice do you have for people who want to be test readers?
MOJCA ŠMON: My advice is that they should stick to their guns when they start this work.
TATJANA KNAPP: Be persistent. Any other advice?
NEJKO PERKO: Persistent, precise, cooperative, clear. This work is important for everyone.
TATJANA KNAPP: Nevenka, do you have advice for new test readers?
NEVENKA KOS: If you start doing this work, you have to do be dedicated to it, don’t do it half-heartedly. Sometimes you say to yourself, I’ll just write that notice, it’s easy, I’ll simply write something. But it’s not that simple. No.
TATJANA KNAPP: So, work with your heart.
NEVENKA KOS: There can be a mix-up if you write something wrong. What you write has to be true, the information has to be checked. You cannot write without checking things first.
TATJANA KNAPP: You have to approach it with you head and your heart.
ALL: That’s right.
TATJANA KNAPP: Thank you. I wish you all the best in your work. Have a nice day.
ALL: Thank you, bye. -Thanks. -Thanks.