The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a new resolution about promoting Easy to Understand Communication for accessibility of persons with disabilities.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is one of the United Nations bodies. Representatives of the 193 countries that are part of the United Nations meet to discuss important issues for the world. At the end, they adopt resolutions. They meet once per year.

A resolution is a decision made after a discussion by the members of the United Nations General Assembly. It is adopted when it is voted on and approved by most of the member States.

This new resolution is important because it means that the United Nations have said that easy to understand communication is important to them and they have made a commitment to work on this.

The new resolution on “easy to understand communication” says that:

  • Persons with intellectual disabilities should have a leading role in the development of policies 
  • Persons with intellectual disabilities should have a leading role in the development of  easy to understand communication products
  • There are different formats of easy to understand communication, no one format will work for everyone
  • Governments should make more effort to deal with barriers that stop  information, communications and other services from being accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Governments should work to make sure that people with disabilities get  information that is for the general public in a format that is  easy-to understand, on time and with no additional cost.

The resolution also announces that during 2023, two important things will happen:

  • A half day meeting will be organised by the United Nations General Assembly close to the Conference of States Parties planned in June. This meeting will be about exchanging ideas. Governments will show good examples of easy-to-understand communication from their countries.
  • There will also be a report on the development, use and implementation of easy-to-understand language with recommendations on guidelines and good practices. Organisations of persons with intellectual disabilities should be consulted and part of writing the report.  

The new resolution is  a good advocacy opportunity for our network to encourage the use of easy-to-understand communication and promote the Listen Include Respect Guidelines.

In order to influence the half day meeting and the report and make sure that our network’s idea of what good accessibility and inclusion means is represented, it is important for Inclusion International members to engage!

Members can do that in different ways:

  1. Take part in the meeting in June: If you are planning to go to New York for the Conference of States Parties, please let us know so we can work together.
  2. Talk to your country’s representative at the General Assembly and encourage them to promote good examples of easy-to understand communication. If you do not know your country’s representative, you can talk  to your country’s Government..
  3. Prepare a list of  good examples of easy to understand communication that your organisation is doing to share with your government. When you prepare the examples of easy-to-understand communication, think about documents, videos, meetings, events, websites and other formats to make sure that easy to understand communication is not only about written material. Also encourage self-advocate delegates to attend the Conference of States Parties in person and be there to share their good examples.

For example: 

  • Do you have a group of self-advocates who work on creating accessible information like Easy Read or Plain Language? 
  • Do you use videos, social media or websites to share easy information with people with intellectual disabilities? 
  • Do you run inclusive meetings and events where information is shared in an accessible way?
  • Are self-advocates part of the governance of your organisation, what support do you provide so that they can make decisions alongside others?

It is important to also refer to our global networks’ guidelines –  the Listen Include Respect guidelines – within the examples.

Listen Include Respect are guidelines for organisations on how to make sure people with intellectual disabilities are included and can take part in activities and decision making. The guidelines give advice on how to communicate in an easy to understand way, for example through accessible information or during inclusive meetings.

Learn more about Listen Include Respect

Inclusion International and Down Syndrome International’s two networks have worked together since 2020 to create the Listen Include Respect guidelines. 350 organisations, from 100 countries, through more than 60 inclusive consultations contributed to making the guidelines and shared what easy to understand communication means for us.   

To talk more about how members can influence these important United Nations processes, Inclusion International and Down Syndrome International are hosting a joint Zoom webinar on the 6th April at 1:00pm GMT.

At this webinar, we will share more information on how you can talk to your governments, share good examples from your country, and influence the international level work of the United Nations!

Members can register for the Zoom webinar at this link.