Sensitivity Reading - what is it?

Sensitivity Reading - what is it?
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Sensitivity Reading - what is it?

Sensitivity reading literally means "counter-reading on sensitive topics" and is part of text editing. As with editing, word choice and expression as well as content representations are checked, with the focus on uncovering discriminatory or stigmatising statements.


It is not about banning content or words with Sensitivity Reading is an offer for people who want to understand why certain expressions are problematic and what effects they have.

Who want to be aware of what messages are between the lines and make sure that their text does not unknowingly contain problematic statements. This offer exists so that authors do not have to limit themselves thematically, but can realise stories authentically and true to life, even if they write outside their horizon of experience.


Sensitivity reading is about more than logic or research errors that can be quickly fixed in editing, where a doorknob that doesn't fit the USA setting is corrected to a knob. (If, however, the character in a scene is supposed to get stuck with the shoulder strap of her bag, then an extravagant floor lamp is placed in front of her or reasons are given as to why there are actually doorknobs in this US building). And even if a door handle remains undiscovered, it diminishes the reading pleasure at best.


But the faulty or misleading representations for which a manuscript is checked in sensitivity reading have societal implications because they involve statements that create prejudice against marginalised people.

People who are marginalised because they are not using and not considered the norm due to their lifestyle, affiliation, body shape, gender, sexuality, age, physical or mental illness, disability. Such prejudicial portrayals occur when people have little contact with the topics they write about and fall back on stereotypical images.


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