The Center for Plain Language Goes Viral
The Center for Plain Language has now hit the big time. I’m sure most of you interested in plain language know by now that our awards’ banquet was a smashing success (details below). What you may not know is that we have gone viral. After the ceremony, we were mentioned in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, at least three dozen blogs, hundreds of Twitters, and on and on and on. We are so happy about all the publicity both for the Center and, frankly, for the “cause” — getting government and business to take seriously consumer and citizen needs for plain language. So, I’m going to give you the details of the awards below assuming there might be a few people left who haven’t heard. But the most important thing to know is that people are learning more about who we are, what we do, and what we stand for. That’s the best award of all!
On April 29, 2010, 100 people gathered at the National Press Club for the first ClearMark and WonderMark awards given by the Center for Plain Language. The audience consisted of nominees, board members, members of the media, and others interested in clarity. These were the first awards for clear and not-so-clear written information given by a national organization. The evening was a spectacular success beginning with opening comments by Susan D. Kleiman, Chair of the ClearMark Awards:
“Tonight, we’re celebrating the cream of the crop. With 160 entries, only 41 of you were finalists. Of the 41 finalists, only 9 of you will be category winners‚Äîa mere 6%. And of the 9 category winners, only one of you will win the Grand ClearMark Award. You are quite special and should be very proud of your achievement.
This is the first-ever U.S. ClearMark Awards Program, but our program is not without precedent. We join a very small group of countries with awards programs: Great Britain, Australia, Sweden, and New Zealand. I especially want to thank Lynda Harris, CEO of Write Limited in New Zealand who spent a great deal of time talking us through the big ideas and details of her own WriteMark program as we shaped our own awards program. We hope that our own ClearMark Awards can continue to build the International Plain Language movement with National Plain Language Awards.”
Our Master of Ceremony was Christopher Balmford, President of Clarity and Owner of ClearDocs, who came all the way from Australia to talk about the finalists and to bestow the awards on the winners.
One of the grand ironies of the evening was the winner of the WonderMark Award: the I-94w immigration form technically titled the “I-94W Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record,” that Christopher and all other visitors to the U.S. have to fill out prior to landing in the U.S. Click here to see the form sample-i94w-form. Christopher made the astute comment that the form is so bureaucratic and unfriendly and poorly designed that it does a disservice to the character of the United States as a welcoming country. Susan D. Kleiman noted, “It might not be the best way to start out by saying to U.S. tourists: ‚ÄòWelcome to the United States — you diseased, crazy, drugged-out, criminal, lying, spying, child abuser!’”
The Grand Prize ClearMark award went to Healthwise, an Idaho-based nonprofit, for its video on dealing with low back pain. “This was a well done video with a message that provided a good explanation of the problem, an easy flow of information, and great analogies,” said Annetta Cheek, chair of the Center for Plain Language. You can read more about the entries at http://www.centerforplainlanguage.org/awards/.
Congratulations to the following winners:
Private: Aetna — Health and Wellness
Non-profit: No winners
Public: Department of Health and Human Services, ODPHP — Quick Guide to Healthy Living and City of Gresham, OR
Private: Aetna — Health Literacy Newsletter
Non-profit: Healthwise –Ix Conversation on Dealing with Low Back Pain
Public: Interagency Working Group, Federal Trade Commission Coordinator — Financial Privacy Notice
Private: First Choice Power — First Choice Power Customer Bill Redesign
Non-profit: Group Health Cooperative — Informed Consent for Surgery or Invasive Procedure
Public: State of Washington, Department of Labor & Industries — Plain Talk for Public Records
You can view the ClearMark Winners’ entries on our website
Many thanks to our judges and those who worked tirelessly to make this event happen: Ann Brewer, Julie Clement, Robert Linsky, Allen Rotz, Michael Schwartz, Xanthi Scrimgeour, Carolyn Sherman, Cheryl Stephens, Christopher Balmford, Irene Etzkorn, Annetta Cheek, Si Fisk, Melodee Merceer, Joanne Locke, Allen Rotz, Eric Spears, Sheri Singer, Deborah Bosley, Whitney Quesenbery, Tom Locke, Qiwu Liu, Shea Antrim, and Stephanie Parker.
Most especially, thanks to all of you who nominated our entries and who support our efforts!