The George Padmore Institute (GPI) is nearing the end of its collaborative project with Paul Christian, an actor with learning disability theatre company Access All Areas, and Sue Ledger, a research fellow with The Open University. Over the past year, our archivist, Sarah Garrod, has been working with both Paul and Sue to develop a series of easy read documents - collections of archival information formatted with pictures and paired with simple language - made for those with learning disabilities.
The project started in January 2022 when Paul and Sue first visited the Institute. Access to educational materials can be challenging for those with learning disabilities, a concern which Paul is addressing through his work with Sue and Sarah. For Paul, 'It is important for people with learning disabilities who are interested in working to stop racism to make links between anti-racism campaigns led by black people in the 1960s and 1970s and those of today.'
Through collaboration with the GPI, Paul and Sue have made significant efforts to address this concern with Sarah’s assistance, to make important documents in our archive accessible. The project has resulted in the creation of three new easy read documents about: the life and work of John La Rose; the 1981 New Cross fire; and a third document introducing the easy reads and explaining the importance of accessible information. The easy reads, which are currently being finalised, will be available at the GPI and on the Open University Social History of Learning Disability website by the end of May.
Sarah hopes that 'we can eventually create easy reads for all our collections' and that 'we need to work with everyone to ensure that our resources are useful and easy to follow.' You can find Sarah's full interview with Paul Christian, as well as further comments by Paul on the importance of this work and the contributions of the GPI, in two articles published by Paul in Community Living (December 2022, April 2023). Read both articles by Paul below:
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