How are we doing? That’s the question that prompted my easy “yes” when I was asked to judge entries for the ClearMark Awards. After three years as a judge (the last two as head judge), I can assert, “We – plain language practitioners and products – are doing fine!”
The “we” includes North American plain language practitioners who enter their English- and Spanish-language documents and digital projects created for government, not-for-profit, and for-profit organizations. The ClearMark judges, who evaluate and write feedback on each entry, represent experienced experts throughout the world. A major pleasure of being head judge is working with these talented evaluators across time zones – from New Zealand and Australia, to the U.S., to Ireland and Belgium. The “fine” proclaimed above represents the high quality of the entries – yes, written in plain language, but also focused on meeting the information needs of the readers, illustrating concepts with superb graphics, and creating useful documents and web-based products that empower users to do what is needed efficiently and effectively.
So why do I volunteer for the Center for Plain Language? At the end of my 40-year career helping corporate and government clients communicate more effectively, I want to encourage other consultants. What better way than evaluating their work, making supportive suggestions for further improvement, and honoring the best of the best.