Experiences from Independent Accessibility Project Work Course

The writer is a student of English translation and multilingual communication about to graduate.

Workshop instructions in easy Finnish

In autumn 2021, I completed the TACCU accessibility project course. My project was adapting workshop instructions to easy Finnish for an organisation called Taksvärkki. It was my first work task on easy language, and I learned a lot.

Taksvärkki is a Finnish registered organisation that was founded in 1967. It operates in the field of development cooperation, with improving equality and the rights of children and young people as its goals. In Finland, Taksvärkki organises an annual campaign and free workshops in schools. In 2021–2022, the campaign topic was disability inclusion and ableism. The workshops, conducted by volunteers, address the annual campaign topic, children’s rights, social advocacy and critical media education. In the workshops, students participate in exercises and discussion.

I started as a volunteer educator at Taksvärkki, and, in the autumn of 2021, I became a part-time employee. Being familiar with Taksvärkki’s work and the workshops was very beneficial. The texts I adapted included instructions for two workshop exercises and one pedagogical script that is meant to support workshop instructors.

What is easy language?

Easy language is a method of accessible communication. It is a language form with simplified  syntactic structures, lexicon and content. Its purpose is to clarify and concretise texts, to make them easier to understand. The main methods of adapting a text into easy language are summarising and simplifying lexicon and syntactic structures. Only common words should be used. If using specialised lexicon is necessary, it needs to be explained. Furthermore, the layout and structure of the text are as important as the content.

Easy language is aimed at people who have difficulties reading and understanding texts. The primary target audience is people with disabilities. However, also people with dyslexia, ADHD or ADD can benefit from easy language, among others.

What I learned

The whole project, including writing the course report, was a very valuable learning experience. Analysing my workflow and decision-making afterwards, while writing the report, was very beneficial.

The most valuable teaching from this project regarded the target audience. Easy language adapters and writers should find as much information about their target audience as possible. Easy language writers’ task is to determine what their reader knows about the topic and get them interested in reading the text. I also learned that, based on the target audience, I need to decide which level of easy language I am producing and stick to it.

After completing the project, I have adapted other Taksvärkki texts to easy language. It is great to get to put in use the things I have learned at the university and notice improvement in my professional competence. And it is amazing that we have an opportunity to take courses like this. Use it.

Mira Kainulainen
Mira Kainulainen