As the Center approaches the close of 2017, we celebrate a prestigious award received recently by our founder and former Chair, Annetta Cheek. The Center’s international counterpart, Plain Language Association International (PLAIN), awarded Annetta the Christine Mowat Plain Language Achievement Award in September at its conference in Graz, Austria. The award honors a “significant contribution to advancing plain language at the local, regional, national, or international levels.”
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.
As we look ahead to 2017, let’s take a look back at where we began.
How did the Center begin?
In the mid-1990s, a group of federal Plain Language advocates met monthly in Washington, DC. We called ourselves PEN – the Plain English Network. In 2000, we changed the name to PLAIN – the Plain Language Action and Information Network. And PLAIN still exists today.
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.