Now that we have another round of ClearMark Awards behind us – phew – I’d like to take a moment to thank our sponsors and donors who make it possible for the Center to stay in business. THANK YOU! Your support has helped us do so many things – here are just a few highlights.
We educated Congress on the benefits of plain language, and those efforts resulted in the Plain Writing Act of 2010. The Act requires Government agencies to use plain language in documents necessary for getting a federal benefit or service. Then, in 2012, we started tracking how well Federal agencies actually comply with the Act. Every year we grade their plain language performance and issue a report card that that gets a lot of press coverage and helps keep them accountable.
Recently, we worked with the Partnership for Public Service to analyze how six Federal agencies use plain language on their websites and to help them do it better. In 2015, we reached beyond the Federal government, teaming with Time magazine to identify companies with the best and worst privacy policies.
The Center for Plain Language hosts workshops to improve the skills of plain language practitioners and advocates, and we connect plain language experts with companies that need help. Over 1,400 queries have resulted in projects to improve company documents, websites, and multimedia.
In 2010, the Center for Plain Language instituted the ClearMark Awards to honor the best plain language work of government, non-profit groups, and private-sector companies. Since then, we’ve recognized over 200 documents, websites, and multimedia as finalists for the ClearMark Awards.
We also decided that really bad communications deserved their own time in the limelight, so we started giving out WonderMark Awards. It turns out the name WonderMark made people go “WTF?” So we recently renamed them the WTF Awards. (But we mean “Work That Fails.”) If you’ve seen some writing that made you scratch your head, send it over to our WTF waste disposal unit. Our Department of Corrections will try to get it fixed and give us all a good laugh along the way.
Our sponsors and donors have been central to all we have accomplished. If you want join them in helping us promote a world that makes more sense, donate here.
About the Author: Bill Ryan is a longtime Federal employee currently serving as a Program Manager in the Department of Homeland Security. He earned his plain language spurs working on the Clinton Administration’s Plain Language Initiative as a member of Vice President Gore’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government.