Plain language is a writing style that makes difficult concepts easier for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities to read. It uses shorter sentences and simpler words, but it doesn’t leave out information. Because this story affects people with disabilities, we wanted the community to read the story without difficulty.
“The broader goal of Plain Language is to prevent cognitively disabled people from being left ‘out of the loop’ on information most of the community can access with little difficulty,” according to a 2020 Forbes article. “This includes information vital to health, safety, legal rights and opportunities, and financial security.”
Monteleone, who teaches disability studies at the University of Toledo, wrote about a similar translation she completed of a ProPublica piece by Amy Silverman for a recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies. Silverman and Beena Raghavendran co authored the article.
While progress has been made to increase accessibility in journalism, it has focused mainly “on strategies relating to physical and sensory access,” the authors said. “While these accommodations also benefit many people with IDD, practical recommendations for newsrooms and media education rarely include information about cognitive access.”
They concluded that “cognitive accessibility is necessary but not sufficient,” calling for “the explicit inclusion of disabled people, particularly people with IDD, in newsrooms and journalistic practices.”
Help support this work
Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you.