The Center for Plain Language is speaking out against proposed changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) communication rules. On Friday, December 15, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration is forbidding CDC from using seven terms and phrases in its upcoming budget documents.
This year the Center is taking a slightly different direction with our annual assessment of government writing: We are grading forms. Or should I say “We are grading Forms!!”—yes, this is exciting! (I don’t imagine, however, that all of the government agencies are as excited about this direction as we are at the Center).
I assume all plain language experts who teach, edit, and review have confronted that exasperated sigh from a colleague: So you don’t like the word I’m using. What do you want me to use instead? This question often comes with an eye roll, grimace, or note of panic because of an approaching deadline.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of the Associate Director for Communication published Everyday Words for Public Health Communication in November 2015. It is Version 1 of plain language suggestions – not mandates – to answer that “what instead” question. This blog is the story of how the document came to be.
The grades say it is…mostly.
As we do every year, the Center reviewed agencies’ plain language programs and some writing samples for the annual Federal Report Card, released today, November 17. Representative Dave Loebsack announced the results.
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:
I’ve spent the last few months working on the 2014 Federal Plain Language Report Card. The Report Card evaluates whether U.S. Federal Departments comply with the Plain Writing Act of 2010. This year we also analyzed writing samples against best practices for both writing and information design.