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Learning how to be (a) patient: visual analysis of accessible health information leaflets for people with intellectual disabilities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalDisability and Society
Early online date20 Sep 2017
Accepted/In press23 Aug 2017
E-pub ahead of print20 Sep 2017


King's Authors


Creation of jargon-free Easy Read health texts, incorporating carefully chosen words and images, is promoted as a way of removing health access barriers for people with intellectual disabilities. Using a social semiotic framework, this article explores the social construction of the patient with intellectual disabilities within a sample of adapted health texts, focusing on the visual images used. Images were coded and analysed according to dimensions suggested by Kress and van Leeuwen’s work on ‘visual grammar’. Images highlight the inclusion of patients with intellectual disabilities in mainstream healthcare settings. However, these patients are depicted as being inserted into somewhat idealized healthcare routines that are pre-determined and micro-managed through to completion. Consideration of risks and choices associated with healthcare use are downplayed. The article concludes that the care of patients with intellectual disabilities continues to constitute potential trouble for mainstream healthcare providers, rather than being an expected aspect of everyday practice.

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