High quality, evidence-based health information can give people the tools they need to make informed decisions about their health and care. However, everyone’s needs are different. A ‘one size’ approach to health information does not fit all and can widen inequalities in health outcomes.

Ready Steady Baby gives parents information and advice to support them through pregnancy, labour and birth and early parenthood. It is available as a printed book, given to pregnant women in Scotland at their midwife booking appointment, as well as a microsite on NHS Inform (external website) and in Arabic, Polish and Simplified Chinese and other formats on request.

Now, Public Health Scotland (PHS) has developed a new easy read version to join the family of Ready Steady Baby resources. The resource helps to make sure that all expectant parents have equitable access to the information and advice they need.  

What is easy read?

Easy read formats make written information easier to understand. They use short sentences in simple language, supported by images and symbols. Easy read formats can be helpful if you have learning disabilities, or if you have other communication needs, such as if English is not your first language or if you have dyslexia.

Image caption Ready Steady Baby easy read spread

Providing information in an easy read format is in line with organisations’ duties under the Equality Act (2010) to produce information in accessible formats. Easy read helps to remove some of the barriers that some people experience in getting access to health information.  

Working in collaboration

People with lived experience were at the heart of developing the easy read Ready Steady Baby. This helped to make sure that the new resource meets the needs of the people who will use it and that the project was informed by PHS’s core value of collaboration.

Before we started work on a new resource, we invited parents, as well as those who support them through their pregnancy journeys – midwives and other health professionals – to tell us what it should look like. At a discussion event, we talked about what information should be included, what kind of images should be used and how the information should be given to parents.

Everyone agreed that parents needed to be at the centre of developing the new resource.

Image caption Visual notes from discussion event with parents
Visual notes from discussion event with parents

We worked with a parents group at People First (Scotland) to start to develop the easy read Ready Steady Baby. This is a national organisation of adults with a learning disability, run by and for its members.

People First members provided guidance on the clarity and accessibility of the overall design, as well as reviewing all the text and images to make sure that they were clear and appropriate. Images, in particular, benefited from being reviewed by different people. As one member of the group said: “images are a difficult area to get right because each image can mean something different to each person.”

The new easy read version is based on the key messages of the existing Ready Steady Baby resources which have been created in collaboration with a wide range of professionals across Scottish Government, NHS, third sector and academia. We also worked with practitioners with expertise in midwifery, obstetrics, health visiting and human rights, as well as policy leads in Scottish Government, to develop the resource.

Learning from the project

Creating Ready Steady Baby Easy Read has been a learning experience for everyone involved. A People First member commented: “I have enjoyed doing this as it has helped me to increase my skills and learn new things that I will be able to use again. It has also given me a chance to help new parents and carers have an idea of what to expect when they have a baby.”

PHS has learned a great deal from members of the parents group about how to make health information clear and accessible. Together we have developed a set of easy read guidelines, which will be used by our organisation to shape other easy read resources in future, such as our screening and immunisation leaflets.

Its gestation was longer than 9 months, but the new easy read version of Ready Steady Baby is now ready to go out into the world and support new parents through their pregnancy journeys and beyond.

Find out more

Midwives and other health professionals who support pregnant women can order the easy read version of Ready Steady Baby, as well as other formats, from their local health information resource service.

Find out more about Ready Steady Baby Easy Read on this resource page for health professionals.

Last updated: 06 October 2022