The second, new and improved edition of Easy News – the first ever newspaper designed specifically for people with learning disabilities – is out today.

Featuring simple language and visual cues, this edition gives readers a news round up featuring the horsemeat scandal, the Oscar Pistorius court case, a new report into disability benefits, the nationwide freezing conditions and the EU referendum, amongst other topics.

Back in January United Response launched the first edition of Easy News because it was aware that few people with learning disabilities read traditional newspapers, as they are put off by complex language, small print and confusing layout.

The launch took place in the House of Commons and United Response was delighted by how the different political parties supported it: not only did Esther McVey, the minister for disabled people, come along to speak at the event, but so did her shadow, the Rt Hon Anne McGuire MP. Esther McVey described Easy News as a “wonderful initiative.”

The first edition was also greeted with positive coverage across the media, from national newspapers to specialist disability magazines. Perhaps most importantly, people with learning disabilities and their families were supportive. As one mother wrote to us: “My son has mild learning disabilities and autism. He enjoyed the first copy of Easy News and was particularly interested in the article about the Bristol care home scandal. This promoted a bit of a discussion which is rare occurrence as he is not very talkative.”

That’s not to say that people thought the first edition was perfect. We were always open about the fact that Easy News was a new initiative which would evolve, and that we wanted as much feedback as possible to make it better in the future. And people weren’t shy about responding – we had MPs, other charities, many readers and family members feeding back congratulations and a few criticisms.

The majority of people were very excited about the newspaper and felt that it struck an excellent balance between being
informative about important news stories while also being accessible and using simple language that would connect with readers with learning disabilities. Everyone felt that it was an important and valuable project, a step towards full equality.

However, some people did feel that it was a shame that the first edition contained news stories from throughout 2012 as they felt that it meant many stories were a little “out of date”. Others felt that the newspaper looked a little bit too much like a brochure, and wondered if the front page could be made more visually striking, as newspapers are. We have ensured that both of these changes – amongst many others – have been taken on board in this new edition of Easy News, with its high impact cover and stories rounded up from the last few weeks.

Not that we expect it to be perfect yet – we still want to hear from readers on ways to make edition three even better. Some problems are an inevitable by-product of the time it takes to translate and print the newspaper – for example, eagle eyed readers will notice that our story on the Pope says that a new appointment would not be made til Easter, a fact which has been overtaken by events. However, we still want to hear from you on the content and the look, so that we can make improvements wherever possible. 
Jaime Gill, head of press and public affairs.

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