Barrierefreie Kommunikation als Voraussetzung und Mittel für die Partizipation benachteiligter Gruppen – Ein (polito-)linguistischer Blick auf Probleme und Potenziale von "Leichter" und "einfacher Sprache"

Bettina Bock


"Leichte Sprache" as the equivalent concept to Easy-to-read and a form of accessible communi-cation has been established in the German-speaking countries since the early 2000s. It is ad-dressed to people with learning disabilities and other groups with difficulties in reading and understanding (simple and complex) written text. In 2009 the German government ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and thereby committed itself to provid-ing accessible information and communication. However, the concept's scientific exploration is still in its early stages. The existing lists of linguistic features and design rules were devel-oped mainly intuitively. A systematic empirical investigation of "Leichte Sprache" is still to be done. The current practice is often slanted towards (over-)simplification, reduction of infor-mation, of lexical and grammatical variety and of stylistic differentiation.
"Leichte Sprache" is intended as a means of supporting and enabling participation in different areas of life for the target group. The article wants to investigate the chances and problems of this accessible form of communication as a prerequisite for and a means of political participa-tion from a linguistic point of view. By way of example three texts are linguistically analysed and compared: For the elections to the Bundestag in 2013 the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) released three manifestos, one regular version, one version modified into "Leichte Sprache" and one version modified into einfache Sprache, which is a similar concept allowing more complexity than "Leichte Sprache". The linguistic analysis mainly focuses on the different strategies regarding the presentation of content, regarding lexis, adequate realisation of text type and function as well as on semantic and pragmatic aspects (frames, speech acts). Subsequently, the article discusses which consequences result from the different linguistic presentations with a view to enabling democratic participation.