As Ireland considers requiring government agencies to use plain language in their forms, I smile and think back to Article 19 of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
this right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media
and regardless of frontiers.
What does this mean? It means three things:
- You have a right to communicate.
- You have a right to understand communications.
- Governments are required to communicate in ways that all their citizens can understand.
So, attention California government communicators: in addition to the federal mandate to use plain language and the state mandate to use plain language, you now have a global mandate to use plain language.
(Warning: sales pitch ahead.)
Plain language isn’t just an idea. It’s not something you can sit down and just do. It’s a language. Unless you’ve been instructed in how to speak and write it, you don’t know it. Write On California has the training tools you need to get you and your agency up to speed on federal writing standards in plain language. Contact us to let us know how we can tailor a plain language training program to fit your needs!
And just to bring things full circle, here’s a pretty picture of Ireland.