Easy Read PhD

27 July 2017

Easy Read PhD. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but disability focussed academic Bronwyn Newman sees a real need for research on what is a life changing, and potentially lifesaving, communications tool.

Bronwyn had been using Easy Read documents as a social worker for years when she decided to do deeper research into the practice as part of her PhD.

The first thing she discovered when she started the literature review for her doctorate was that there was very little to find.

“I found very little research about Easy Read at all, or about how it is used and who uses it. I don’t think that’s reflective of the fact that people do use it, and use it really well,” Bronwyn says.

Beyond understanding who is using Easy Read and how, Bronwyn is specifically interested in whether Easy Read is an effective way of making mental health services more accessible.

She has extensive experience in the NSW disability sector, which has given her insight into the complex issues surrounding the provision of services for people with intellectual disability.

Her PhD will examine national and state policy, map resources currently available across the Department of Health, and explore the use of Easy Read at a small number of agencies and organisations, including Council for Intellectual Disability (CID).

Bronwyn said it is known that people with intellectual disabilities experience mental health issues more often than the general population and find it hard to get the services they need. She hopes that making mental health information more accessible could improve the situation.

“I’m interested to see if there is a way that what I’m doing can impact that, because if people have a better understanding it means they are more confident to ask questions, learn more about mental health and find the services they need,” she said.

Bronwyn is currently interviewing staff and members at CID, and reviewing our Easy Read resources, policies and procedure documents.

Her research will feed into the National Health & Medical Research Council Partnerships for Better Health Project, Improving Mental Health Outcomes for People with an Intellectual Disability.

She will of course also be producing an Easy Read summary of her research findings. So it really is possible to have an Easy Read PhD!

If you are interested in speaking with Bronwyn about Easy Read, and how it can be used in health, you can email her at bronwyn.newman@student.unsw.edu.au

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