Easy read cancer information for people with learning disabilities

In this blog, our quality and evaluation officer Lynn talks about the easy read information we produce, and how it can be helpful for many people.

We know that being told you have cancer can be a huge shock. You feel anxious and uncertain about what will happen next. It can be difficult to take in what the doctor tells you. Information about treatments can seem overwhelming.

But if you are one of the million adults in the UK with a learning disability, this can be even more of a challenge.

This image shows a quote from Amanda who has a leaning disability. It reads: I find it difficult to process lots of words.'

This is where easy read cancer information can help. It uses easy-to-understand words supported by pictures that explain their meaning. Easy read information has been designed for and with people who have a learning disability. And it can also be useful for anyone who finds it hard to read, or has English as a second language.

Macmillan and the learning disability organisation CHANGE have worked together to produce 52 easy read cancer booklets.

They cover all aspects of cancer, including:

  • What is cancer?
  • Screening for cancer
  • Living a healthy life
  • Signs and symptoms
  • Treatments and side effects
  • Living with cancer

This image shows the front cover of our easy read booklet What is cancer?

In 2016, we updated all our easy read booklets and involved people with learning disabilities at every stage. We asked people with learning disabilities, and learning disability professionals, how we could improve our easy read booklets. We listened to what people said and now:

  • Pictures are in colour

This image shows a colour picture from one of our easy read booklets. It shows a doctor examining a patients neck. Next to the picture is some text which reads: It is important to tell your doctor about any changes or worries you have as soon as possible.'

  • You can order printed copies of the booklets from be.macmillan

We have also updated the information in the booklets using our readability and accessibility guidelines.

And there’s a Word Bank at the back of each booklet to explain any difficult but necessary words:

This image shows a page taken from one of our easy ready booklets. It is the Word bank, and includes the words screening and symptoms. The words have a short description underneath them, and a picture next to them to help explain the word.

Amanda has a learning disability. Here she talks about the problems she had when doctors told her she had cancer:

We believe everyone should have access to good quality cancer information.
Good quality health information helps us to understand our condition and manage our own health and well-being. It enables us to make decisions about the treatments and care that are right for us. It empowers us and gives us confidence to deal with an illness. Everyone has a right to these things. 

Our easy read booklets are one way to make important information about cancer accessible for people with a learning disability.

If you have any feedback on our easy read booklets, please email cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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