Knowledge democratization and easy reading

Torresburriel Estudio
3 min readApr 3, 2024

Easy reading emerges as a movement towards the democratization of knowledge. Its goal is to simplify the structure and language of texts while maintaining the essence and integrity of the original message. This means choosing commonly used words, short and clear sentences, and simple grammatical structures, without sacrificing the richness of the information.

Photo by Mia Anderson on Unsplash

Undoubtedly, in our current society, understanding digital texts is necessary for everyone, as it is part of daily activities (personal, professional, and leisure).

From children to older adults, including people with learning difficulties or those who simply prefer straightforward and uncomplicated information, the beneficiaries of easy reading are as diverse as society itself. Specifically, some of the groups most benefited by easy reading techniques are:

  • People with intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • People with cognitive difficulties
  • Deaf people
  • People in transitional situations

As Vived and Molina propose in the book “Easy reading and reading comprehension in people with intellectual disabilities,” easy reading is a general methodological approach to make information accessible and facilitate the understanding of written messages for all people, regardless of their intellectual and learning diversity.

On the other hand, within the WCAG 2.2, under the success criterion 3.1.5 Reading Level (AAA), the goal is for users to be able to obtain a simplified version of complex information, and here, the task of UX specialists is to create an easier to understand version when the text information is complex.

The content must be written in the clearest and simplest way possible. The intention of this success criterion is to:

  • Ensure that additional content is available to help understand difficult or complex texts
  • Establish a verifiable measure indicating when such additional content is required.

Methods for writing easy-to-read texts

Creating easy reading content involves more than using simple words. It’s a holistic approach to creating information that is accessible and understandable to everyone.

To ensure our texts are easy to read, there are two main areas we need to consider: writing and design.

Within the writing aspect, we must take into account:

  • Spelling: proper use of capitalization, punctuation, and orthographic signs. Additionally, it’s important to use numbers and dates in a standard format, avoiding Roman numerals.
  • Grammar: avoid passive voice, use simple short sentences (with the structure subject + verb + complements), and preferably, use direct over indirect style.
  • Lexicon: use simple words consistently, and avoid long or difficult-to-pronounce words. Another good practice is to avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms.
  • Style: be concise, expressing one idea per sentence and avoiding the introduction of multiple ideas or actions in a simple sentence. Also, it’s important to eliminate any type of unnecessary content, ideas, words, and sentences. Regarding the conclusion, it’s advisable to repeat and summarize the main ideas.

Regarding design:

  • Images: use images that support the text, and that are easy to understand and recognize. If color is used to convey a concept (such as good, bad, prohibited…), it’s important to add reinforcing information to facilitate understanding for people, for example, with color blindness. As always, we must not forget the “alt” text for these images. Also, it is very important.
  • Typography: use sans-serif fonts, as they are clearer. It is also advisable not to use very thin characters, nor to italicize entire phrases or use all caps.
  • Text composition: align the text to the left, do not justify it to the right. Also, organize the text into blocks, dividing it into short paragraphs and chapters.

Easy reading is not just a methodology; it’s a gateway to inclusion and equal access to knowledge. By implementing the writing and design strategies we’ve discussed, we’re taking an important step towards creating a world where everyone, regardless of their abilities or circumstances, can understand and enjoy the content around them.

This move towards the democratization of knowledge not only benefits those who face reading barriers but also enriches our society, fostering an environment of empathy, understanding, and respect for diversity. At its core, easy reading reminds us that access to information is a right, not a privilege, and it is our duty as communicators, designers, and committed citizens to ensure that this right is a reality for everyone.



Torresburriel Estudio

User Experience & User Research agency focused on services and digital products. Proud member of @UXalliance