Accessible guidelines for authors - British Journal of Learning Disabilities

I would like to let you know about a recent project which aims to make the world of academic writing a tiny bit more accessible to people with learning disabilities.

Self-advocates from Lewisham Speaking up, a self-advocacy service for adults with learning disabilities in the south London borough, worked alongside staff from the Lewisham Mental Health in Learning Disabilities team in South London and Maudsley NHS Trust to create a new accessible version of the author guidelines for the British Journal of Learning Disabilities (BJLD).

While the journal has long welcomed article submissions written by, or co-written with, people with learning disabilities, their guidelines used a small font, lots of jargon, and overall was not accessible to people who wanted to write in it. Self-advocates were therefore invited by the journal’s editor, Bob Gates, to create guidance which would make the process clearer. The Journal Project group therefore met over several months to develop easy-read information about how to write for the journal, using clearer language and pictures. They discussed how filling in a form is an easier way to structure information than starting from scratch, so the group also developed an easy-read form that guides writers through the process of writing an article for the journal.

The accessible guidelines and form can be found on the BJLD website here: More information about the project will be published in the editorial of the December edition of the BJLD.

Group members discussed how important it is for people with learning disabilities to be able to write in journals, and contribute to the ‘knowledge’ base that is held about them, as research and other publications can have a huge impact on policy and peoples’ daily lives. Speaking up about what’s important to them is imperative, and being more able to write in journals such as the BJLD is hopefully a small step in the right direction. Well done to the Journal Project! We would love to hear if you use the guidelines to help in supporting more co-production in this field.

Best wishes


Dr Annabel Head

Clinical Psychologist

Lewisham Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Service (MHLD)

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

19-21 Brownhill Road | Catford | London | SE6 2HG

Telephone: 020 3228 9600 Switchboard: 020 3228 6000

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