Simpler language – Is the voting booklet too complex for many? – News


In Switzerland, many people with disabilities live largely independently, work and are interested in politics. So did Karin Rösch and Bruno Fankhauser.

But when it comes to voting, they have trouble. The voting material is too complex for you to be able to inform yourself. They depend on the help of their relatives or third parties: “It’s just very difficult to understand that. How is anyone supposed to understand that? Especially with these paragraphs.”

Big hurdles – big concerns

There are considerable hurdles for people with disabilities to find out about voting in a form that they can understand. They also criticize that UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in its latest state report on Switzerlandwhich has been a state party since 2014:

“The committee noted with concern that there are barriers for people with disabilities to access public information and communications that they understand.”


According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, more comprehensible political information is needed for people with disabilities, including in the voting booklet.

key stone

On the fringes of society instead of in the middle

One of the cornerstones of the convention, namely the inclusion and equality of people with disabilities in society, would also mean that everyone could find out about political events in a way that they could understand. However, material on this is largely lacking in Switzerland.

This prevents equal participation in politics and is expressed in the still widespread attitude that people with disabilities are a separate group from “normal society”.

It’s being pushed aside, not being in the middle. We are also a company that achieves a lot. Even if we have a disability.

Karin Rösch also sees it this way: “It’s ‘being pushed aside’ and not being right in the middle. We are also a company that achieves a lot. Even if we have a disability.

Plain language – inaccurate information?

Comprehensible information, that would be possible with the translation of documents into a so-called “simple language”. The voting booklet could also be made accessible to people with disabilities.

The Federal Chancellery is critical of this in a statement sent by e-mail: “In the run-up to referendums, oversimplified, imprecise official statements would quickly be assessed as improper influence by the authorities.”

Therefore, according to the Federal Chancellery, an official translation of such texts into plain language is associated with considerable difficulties and risks.

Extremely simplified and imprecise official statements are quickly evaluated by the authorities as improper influence.

Bettina Nagler, who does just such translations for authorities and companies with her agency Capito, denies that the voting booklet would be inaccurate if it were translated into easy-to-understand language. “You can translate any text into easy-to-understand language, but there are limits to the extent that a text in easy-to-understand language can’t be too long.”

Any text can be translated into easy-to-understand language, but there are at most limits to the scope.

So why aren’t there more documents that are provided in plain language?

On the one hand, there is the fear of falsifying the content of what has been written, as the Federal Chancellery writes. On the other hand, there is also a lack of awareness of the fact that information contained in the voting booklet is incomprehensible to certain people.

Templates are explained as simply as possible and as complicated as necessary.

According to the Federal Chancellery, the federal government always tries to use the simplest and most understandable language possible for all citizens in the voting explanations. But these explanations are not simple enough for many people in Switzerland.

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