Making information on Restorative Justice accessible

Published: Friday, July 14th, 2023

This is a blog by our Communications and Events Coordinator, Keeva Baxter.


Button with 'access' written on it

Throughout the course of our project work, through speaking to people who have been affected by crime or those working in criminal justice settings, we have found that one key barrier to Restorative Justice is the accessibility of information.

Restorative Justice can be a complicated concept that comes in many formats and looks different for everyone involved. Information about risk assessments, the right to withdraw at any time and the flexibility around the needs of the people involved is crucial information to communicate before a process can go ahead. 

One key barrier with many Restorative Justice resources is language, both in terms of which languages that information is available in and the terminology used to describe the process. 

We have had many conversations with Restorative Justice practitioners about whether they even use the term ‘Restorative Justice’ when introducing the idea to potential participants. While some believe it is important to maintain continuity and raise awareness around a single concept, others think the term itself can unintentionally put people off. It is important that we think about the language we use and consider what certain words mean to certain communities. For example, the word ‘justice’ can bring about connotations of police, prisons, court and unfortunately ‘injustice’. Anyone who has had negative experiences of these may be discouraged from engaging with a conversation about Restorative Justice.

How can we make information more accessible?

The best way to ensure the accessibility of the resources you create and use is to consider the different people who may be using them and how you can pass on the information most effectively. One crucial part of this is asking the communities you are trying to engage what works well for them. Making decisions on behalf of those you support will never be as effective as engaging them in the decision making process. 

Can you make your resources more visual and less word-heavy? Can you use simple language that is easy to understand and translate? Can you get feedback on your resources and consult the people who will be using them? 

For young people, deaf people or people with learning disabilities it can be really useful to subtitle any audio material you publish. This ensures that people can learn and process information in a way that suits them. This can also be useful for those who speak English as an additional language who may struggle with spoken English but be more comfortable with it written down. There are many resources now that speed up the subtitling process and even some that use Artificial Intelligence to create the subtitles for you. If you are going down the AI route, make sure you check the subtitles as they sometimes make mistakes and this will inhibit the accessibility of your resources.

We also have an ‘Easy Read’ document on Restorative Justice that gives the basic information on what Restorative Justice means and what the process involves in an accessible format. This Easy Read resource is available for you to use and share with your networks, please credit Why me? if you do so.

As advocates of Restorative Justice, it is important that we share information on it as widely as possible and ensure that everyone who is interested in the process is able to find out about it in a format suitable to them. 

Here at Why me? we are currently using a tool called Recite Me to make the information we provide more accessible. It adds a toolbar to our website meaning users can change the language of our content, use the text to speech function, change the font, colour or display of the page or using reading guides. This can be launched by clicking ‘Accessibility’ in the top right corner of our website menu or by clicking on the toolbar icon in the bottom right. We hope that by implementing this tool, many more people who are interested in finding out about Restorative Justice can do it in a way that suits them. 

Consider how accessible your resources are and how you explain Restorative Justice to the people you work with. In order to make Restorative Justice as accessible as possible, it is crucial to ensure that everyone, no matter their background or their needs, can get information on it in a way they understand. 

How Recite Me works

If you are interested in trying out our accessibility toolbar, the video below demonstrates how it works. Alternatively, head to our website and try it out!

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