Making public information clear How we knew we needed a plain language program Way back in 1998, Vice President Gore signed a memo setting up expectations that information from the Federal government would be easy for the public to understand. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, had tried a few writing programs in […]
Plain Language Blog Articles
We know that sinking feeling when we read a confusing email or business letter. We scan the wall of words and ask ourselves, ‘why should I care, what does this mean to me, and what am I supposed to do with this information?’
Making information less complex and more concise How we knew we needed a plain language program In 2010, most of our day-to-day communications with county residents were lengthy, overly complex, and often filled with legal jargon. In addition, each county department had their own style and voice. Surveys of residents showed they were often confused […]
Since 2018 we have introduced a lot of changes to make our legal process more accessible. Building a culture of plain language was one of them. It cost us very little, but has made a big difference in how ordinary people use our service. In terms of cost versus benefit, it has been a massive bargain.
In 2006, I was working as a writer-editor in the regulatory shop of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for providing legal immigration benefits and services. Any one of our regulations could affect thousands to millions of people, many of whom didn’t speak English as a first language. So we had to get the language right.
Now that the frenetics of launching the annual ClearMark Awards are over, the Center for Plain Language had a chance to chat with two leaders from a great social media advisor/aide: Circuit Media, based in Denver, CO.