Let’s be clear and understood

Let’s be clear and understood

Plain language writing and design is more important than ever. We have more information to process than in the past. And we get much of our information on a screen, where we’re more likely to scan text, rather than read it.

The NWT Literacy Council is a big plain language advocate. Our Write for Your Reader handbook and Plain Language Audit Tool are in their second printing. We do plain language editing on a fee-for-service basis.

We’re thinking about clear communication because this Saturday is International Plain Language Day. The theme is “Let’s be clear!” October 13 marks the day the United States passed its Plain Language Act in 2010.

October is also Health Literacy Month. Plain language in the health system is a safety issue. The Canadian Public Health Association notes that “when someone is ill, anxious or in pain, being able to access and understand health information may be difficult, even if the person's literacy skills are generally high.”

Plain language is increasingly accepted in the legal and justice communities. Universities are coming around too, with Simon Fraser University offering a part time online Plain Language Certificate program.

We recently came across a short video that tells us about trends in plain language around the world. The video has good suggestions for championing plain language. We really like the concept that plain language is a process, not just a product.

We would love to see and share good northern examples of plain language. How have you successfully communicated information that your intended audience could find, understand, and use? Your example could be a document or web page.

Give me a call if you want to share your successes, know more about our services, or talk about plain language in general.

— Kathryn Barry Paddock

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