I was saddened to discover a new report that needs, more than most, to practice what it preaches, the Scottish Government’s Principles of Inclusive Communication: An information and self-assessment tool for public authorities.

Alas, it doesn’t.

It’s written by

members from the Independent Living in Scotland Programme partnership, Disabled People’s Organisations and other representatives from the public sector and third sector, in co-production with the Improvement Service

That mouthful may be a clue why what should be a winning race horse looks distinctly like a camel.

First, the title, which neither explains what the report is about and is full of jargon like principle, inclusive, self-assessment and tool.  Further unnecessary jargon is scattered throughout the report.

Second, it addresses its audience inconsistently, mostly in the third person (“it”, “they”) and only  occasionally in the much more direct and effective second person (“you”).

Third, it uses too many words.  The statement ‘To ensure you can provide communication accessible services, it is good practice to allow time to arrange different formats or communication support depending on the needs of your audience’ appears in a list of good practice examples.  All the words in my italics are redundant.  There are many other examples.

Fourth, some statements are just plain wrong.  Quality service delivery is not ‘when the service provider and person who uses the service understand each other, and the person who is using the service is able to express their needs and choices effectively’.  Quality service delivery is when a good service is provided.

Fifth, typos have escaped any proof reading that has been done – for example, ‘one system will not meet the needs of the all the people who use services’.

Lastly for the purposes of this post, although there are other comments that could be made, the ten performance indicators appended to the report merit a small essay in themselves.  Suffice it to say here that many only record levels of activity and some are contradictory, for example expecting an improvement every year in a visible and public commitment of support by senior managers.

Lurking at the heart of the report are six excellent albeit poorly-expressed principles and some valuable good practice examples – which should have  more prominence than they do.  Unfortunately all its other limitations are likely to mean the leaders and senior managers it is aimed at will pass it straight to the equalities officer and (in councils) the social work service.

A not untypical report produced by a committee and a missed opportunity.

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