Definition and background

Easy Finnish (selkokieli) is easier to understand than standard Finnish. It is a form of Finnish that has been adapted so that it is easier to read and understand than standard Finnish in terms of content, vocabulary and structure. It is targeted at people who have difficulties with reading or understanding standard Finnish.

Clear layout is also central to easy language. Web texts in turn need to pay attention not only to the accessibility of language but also to web accessibility. When a standard language text is altered into easy language, the process is called adaptation.

Background of Finnish easy-to-understand language

Easy-to-understand language has been developed in Finland since the 1980s, following the example of Sweden, where the first easy language materials had been published already a couple of decades earlier. Nordic cooperation has all in all played an especially important role in the development of easy Finnish and also in other easy languages of the North.

At first easy language was developed to serve the needs of people with intellectual disabilities. The essential idea was to produce easy-to-understand materials that would make different texts and literature accessible also to people with intellectual disabilities.

It soon turned out that other groups also could benefit from easy language. The 1990s marked the start of the production of easy language materials for elderly people and immigrants. The task of integrating the needs and wishes of different people with immigrant backgrounds hasn’t always been easy. But through compromises we have been able to create a strong, shared form of language, something than no user group could have achieved alone.

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