I’ll never forget my first ClearMark Awards.
My business partner, Deanna, and I had travelled to D.C. to attend the 2012 Clarity Conference and decided to stay for the Awards. As writers and clarity experts, we looked forward to learning more and seeing the best new work coming out of the plain language world. But after attending countless conferences and awards ceremonies, I had modest expectations.
On Sept. 17 – 20, 2015, our sister organization, the Plain Language Association International (PLAIN), held its 10th conference, co-hosted by Ireland’s National Adult Literacy Agency. Practitioners from around the world gathered in Dublin at the Dublin Castle to discuss and learn about plain language principles.
Speakers shared their expertise on an array of topics that gave us new insights into writing and designing with clarity.
I recently watched a video where a patient defined “hypertension” as “when you’re not able to sit still.” It made me sad—and reminded me (again) why plain language, or clear communication, truly matters.
Since our founding in 1975, Healthwise has been committed to producing health information that people can understand. That was years before plain language became a discipline, a movement even, and the worthy focus of conferences, organizations and workshops. Now there’s a new book on the topic, Plain Language and Ethical Action, by Boise State University technical communications professor Russell Willerton.
Early this summer, TIME.com asked the Center for Plain Language to evaluate some online privacy notices, using the types of assessment we use for our ClearMark awards and our Federal Plain Language Report Card. I took the lead on the project and learned some great lessons along the way. TIME.com published the article in August.
The Federal Report Card process for 2015 is underway! Agencies are preparing their submissions for the Center’s review. This relatively new service by the Center (since 2012) continues to evolve, and this year we are making a couple of changes to the process.
First, we are reviewing two types of documents, one selected by the Center and the other selected by the agency: