[053.18] what is readability and why it is important in social work practice

Readability is a methodology that allows evaluating the ease with which a document can be read and understood, presenting, as a result, a numerical value that allows us to verify and identify the level of education is necessary to fully understand these written documents. These formulas began to be developed in the United States (appearing as a response to the demand of US high schools science teachers for terms that could be more easily understood by students) and are presented as mathematical equations that correlate the quantifiable elements of writing.

Since that time, the formulas studied and created to analyze the degree of readability have been diverse, and even though these formulas do not allow to verify the complexity of ideas or their logical ordering, nor do they take into account intrinsic aspects of the reader, such as the interest and motivation, one of the main advantages this technique is to raise the awareness to the person writing a document, allowing the writer to check if his writing is too dense for those who are the target of the documents.

Besides this, and in the social work practice, it allows the professionals that work with the people for whom these documents have been produced, to understand what level of support they will need in order to understand, and thus act accordingly, with that knowledge.

For example, it has been studied the readability level of forms that are necessary to be filled by those claiming benefits, and it was clear that several would not be able to understand the document, thus what is required, suggesting that social work professionals needed to give more support to those clients.

Having in consideration that, at this moment, there is a tendency to use online applications for several benefit claims, reduce the readability level is even more important.

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