Ulla Bohman: KLAARA goes to Portugal

The 3rd  KLAARA Conference took place the first week of July 2023, in Leiria Portugal.

Easy Language specialists, researchers and professionals from Europe, Australia and Brazil got together at Leiria Polytechnic for 4 days of information and knowledge sharing, interesting presentations and lots of useful networking. Since the 2nd KLAARA had to be online due to the pandemic, I think everyone was extra happy and motivated to finally be face to face again.

The opening session included addresses from both the Mayor of the City of Leiria and the Secretary of State for Inclusion who represented the Ministry of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security. The organizers did a fantastic job with having English/Portuguese interpreters present for those of us who needed.

Six different keynotes were presented. The one keynote I think everyone will remember most clearly is “People with ID as content validator”. Tatjana Knapp and Nevenka Kos from Slovenia shared their experience from the project Train2Validate. The project has investigated what competences an Easy Language facilitator and a validator must have. The project has shown the importance of having representation of the target group as validators of all the Easy Language products. Nevenka has ID and is working as a validator. She says being a validator is her job and should be seen as a profession. And, she is a good example of how this can be successful.

The keynotes were followed by more than 30 parallel sessions on a wide range of topics. It was quite difficult to chose which ones to join. But, one thing that became obvious to me was that there is quite a lot going on in the Easy Language World. The conference really showed how important it is for us to come together. The Easy Language International Network ELIN threw a speed dating session. The session enabled us to get some more information on what different people are doing in their work with Easy Language, and to possibly find a partner for new Easy Language Project ideas. The session was loud, crazy and stressful, but so much fun.

The participants at the conference gave me lots of input and new knowledge. It was interesting to find out more about how different countries are facing different obstacles. For example implications of having a number of native languages within your own country, the lack of legislation, the ignorance about the need of accessible information or the low status or negative opinion many still have about an easier language.

It’s clear to me that there is still a lot to do to make it possible for everyone to participate in society on equal terms. To enable participation the information needs to be accessible. I stressed in my keynote, which had the topic Cognitive Accessibility – a question of rights, how we all have cognitive difficulties from time to time in our lives. And most likely, the majority of us will need information in Easy Language when we are old, if not sooner.

Portugal was warm and sunny. The town of Leiria a beautiful medieval town with a fantastic castle on top of the hill. And, the conference dinner was to die for – the food, the company, the venue!

I want to express a big THANK YOU to the organizers and a special one to our “Conference General” Sandra Marques. I’m already looking forward to the next KLAARA!

Ulla Bohman, Boarve konsult Sweden