Need for easy language
How many people in Finland need easy language? According to a needs assessment (2014) carried out by the Finnish Centre for Easy Language, the need for easy language has grown significantly in recent years. The assessment is based on different statistics (e.g. number of special needs students, sizes of different groups of people with disabilities), international comparative data, and starting from the early 2000s, also literacy surveys. The assessment did not take into account the refugee situation, which radically changed in autumn 2015.
Half a million people need easy language in Finland
In Finland around 430 000–650 000 persons, i.e. 8–12 % of the population, belong in the target groups of easy language. Boys and men number slightly higher among them than girls and women, and a small part of the users are mechanically illiterate.
In addition, easy language can in certain situations benefit a larger proportion, around 20–25 %, of the population (including the actual target groups).
The need for easy language varies in different life stages:
- children and young people 8–12 %
- people of working age 6–10 %
- people over 65 years old 15–20 %.
The need for easy language keeps growing
The need for easy language has increased in recent years for e.g. the following reasons:
- The number of elderly people has grown. As the population ages, memory diseases become increasingly common. The trend is that people are encouraged to live at home as long as possible. These people need easy instructions and other materials.
- The number of immigrants keeps growing. A growing number of people are learning Finnish as a foreign language. For them easy language is a good gateway for inclusion in Finnish society and culture and to learn Finnish.
- The number of students with special needs keeps growing. Among them there are many people who have specific linguistic difficulties and for whom easy-to-understand materials can serve, for example, to inspire reading.