Authors: Poppy Quintal
Poppy gave a brief history of how and why Simplified English (SE) was developed, and an overview of the SE rules for vocabulary and grammatical style. A before-and-after analysis of cautions and warnings showed the benefits of SE to an industry in which quick and clear understanding of maintenance procedures is a vital safety consideration.
Michel presented a new tool called “Assessing the Complexity of Literacy Tasks.” It is designed to help document designers understand the ability levels of readers as defined in the International Adult Literacy Survey. This complexity-rating tool, based on the work of Irwin Kirsh and Peter Mosenthal, can help information designers ensure that the level of complexity of public information matches the literacy level of the target readers. It complements plain language techniques and can deal with some of the shortfalls of readability formulas based on school grade levels.
Some thoughts for the PLAIN conference, Toronto 2002
Authors: Peter Butt
In a panel discussion chaired by Joseph Kimble, Brian Hunt and Peter Butt argued the assumptions behind the use of plain legal language. Brian posed the questions: Is there really a demand for plain language legislation? Would plain language legislation function as intended? Peter presented evidence from recent research supporting the claim that plain language benefits legal documents and statutes.
The health-literacy connection
Authors: Doris E. Gillis
Have you ever left your doctor's office confused by the advice you were just given? At some time or other, most of us have felt limited in our knowledge and understanding of information related to our health.
Health literacy is a new concept that links our level of literacy with our ability to act upon health information and, ultimately, take control of our health. It builds upon the idea that both health and literacy are critical resources for everyday living.
Addressing health literacy means breaking down the barriers to health that low literacy creates
Series: WWestNet's The bottom line
This issue includes an article on the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour’s Worker’s Education for Skills Training (WEST) program, which received a Training for Excellence award from the Saskatchewan Labour Force Development Board.
Another article deals with the lack of awareness of workplace essential skills revealed by the Linkage Project undertaken by Workplace Education Manitoba.
Further articles focus on a conference on plain language; an analysis of functional context education; and a needs assessment being carried out at Calgary food production plants.
Authors: Sally McBeth
Although we often think of George Orwell's classic essay on the politics of language as the starting place for the plain language movement, we are part of a tradition of advocacy for grace, simplicity, and equity in communication that goes back to Chaucer and beyond him, to the hybrid beginnings of the English language. Sally's short historical tour honoured the work of the plain language pioneers in our midst.
Authors: Deirdre Viviers
South Africa has 27 spoken and 11 official languages, and no uniform level of proficiency in English. Yet education, access to information and transparency are basic human rights, according to the new constitution. Plain language therefore plays a vital role in attaining these goals. Because plain language skills are also necessary for successful participation in the business community, the School of Accountancy at the University of the Witwatersrand developed a Business Communications course. Deirdre described the rationale for and design of the course, with a focus on the centrality of plain language.
Authors: Workplace Education Manitoba
More people will understand and be able to utilize your information if it is written in clear language. When a document is unclear, people lose interest, get frustrated and give up. Worse, if a reader misunderstands a document the result can sometimes be a costly or tragic error. In this resource on clear language, Workplace Education Manitoba has compiled a few tips, techniques and formulas for making your meaning clearer and your documents easier to read.
Authors: Jamie Lamothe
The goal of Public Health is to promote and protect health and prevent disease. Jamie explained how, at Halton, clear language is one component of a larger “Equal Access Strategy” that aims to remove barriers to public health services. Participants who attended this presentation learned about the energy needed to champion a clear language strategy in a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment; and the rewards that accrue to an organization embracing change.
Authors: Ruth Baldwin
This booklet is about writing to be understood. It will provide some ideas about what makes material difficult to read, and some tips on how to better communicate.
The ideas found in this booklet can be applied to any kind of writing. However, they are most important if one is writing for adults who are not comfortable getting information from print, either because they don't read well, or because English is not their first language.