Trade Secrets: Recap of the accessible writing session with Ettie Bailey-King

Ettie shared her trade secrets in a special 26 workshop on 22 February. In case you missed it, here are a few pearls of wisdom from the session. 

Ettie Bailey-King

I think pretty much anyone who writes knows that accessibility is important. But in the wrong hands, it’s a subject that can quickly become a bit dry and technical, or even stray into guilt-inducing territory.  

From the beginning, it was clear that Ettie’s workshop would be quite the opposite. She was warm, she was engaging, she was, of course, inclusive and accessible. 

We started the session with helpful definitions and discussion around disability and neurodivergence. But Ettie didn’t stop there – instead making the point that we all have accessibility needs to some extent, and that our needs are ever-changing. As writers, realising this is the key to embracing accessible writing as essential, not just a nice-to-have. 

Ettie summarised this in her generous interview with 26 last month: Accessible writing is for everyone, and shared her top writing tips. If you missed it, take a look. 

Here are a few more helpful nuggets that stuck with me from the workshop: 

  • Treat unusual words “like seasoning”. They don’t need to be off limits, just use them sparingly. Not only will this make your writing more accessible, it’ll also mean your words have more impact when you really need them to. Plus, I do love a food analogy.
  • Negative contractions, such as ‘don’t’ and ‘isn’t’ can be harder to understand, and may be misread as a positive. If you’re communicating something vital, such as ‘These medicines shouldn’t be taken together’, swap it for ‘should not’ to be on the safe side. 
  • Telling stories makes our writing more accessible. We’re human, after all. We’re wired to engage with stories, and use them to make sense of the world around us. This is something I already know, and preach almost daily. But it took Ettie’s workshop to confirm that this also makes communication more accessible

Check out Ettie’s website for more accessibility resources. 

– Sophie Gordon

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