18 March 2021
Presented by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for their peers, Hallo Thuis aims to make news accessible to all. The project started in the Netherlands a year ago to help people understand pandemic news and guidelines.
Every time the Dutch Prime Minister and Minister of Health hold a COVID-19 press conference, Hallo Thuis follows up with a live chat show. Hosts Sebastiaan, Gea and Luuk discuss government measures and other news, figuring them out together and answering viewers' questions in plain language. All of the hosts are differently abled.
Broadcasting live on YouTube and Twitch every weekday, Hallo Thuis also creates a social hub for people who would normally work or attend non-residential programs, all of which were shut down when the pandemic started. (The show's title translates as 'Hello at Home'.) In addition to news about COVID and yesterday's parliamentary elections, Hallo Thuis also discusses lighter fare and organises bingo games, quizzes and communal LEGO building. Production is handled by Philadelphia, an organisation that runs both residential and non-residential programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
News and other crucial information — whether it's about health, finances or legal rights — need to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their cognitive abilities. We love the for-and-by approach taken by Hallo Thuis, but communicating in plain language is something every consumer-facing organisation should consider (for tips, check out Plain language writing — An essential part of accessibility).
Related: ProPublica experiments with ultra-accessible plain language in stories about people with disabilities.