Plain Language Communication

A young woman with long curly hair has her hands to her face and looks stressed. It’s assumed that by the time students leave school they can read and write. However, even with remedial work, some students will leave school without a working level of these skills. More than 40% of Australians do not have the literacy skills for everyday living. Included in this group are people with English as a second language. This is why plain language communication is important – and good for everyone. It is a universal design approach to communication.

Governments now are producing Easy Read documents as adjuncts to their main documents. But other fields of endeavour are not catching up. In particular, academic writing has always been exclusive to those who can read at this level. The bottom line is, if you want your document and information read by as many people as possible, write in plain language. Alternatively, provide a plain language summary. But this is another skillset.

A short study on teaching plain language gives an example of how to go about the task. It is based on health and exercise information. Presented in a poster format, the paper explains how the study was done. The example of writing a participant consent form illustrates the task. After several iterations they reached 8th grade (US grading) reading level. The example is shown in the poster presentation. There is also a link to an explanatory video.

The title of the poster is, “Are Kinesiologists Ready to Communicate? Merits of a Practicum Course on Plain Language Communication”. There are links to the authors other work on the topic.  

Black and white logo for easy read, has a tick and a open bookWe are seeing more accessible formats for people who are blind/low vision and Deaf/hard of hearing. So, we need plain language and Easy Read too. 

Cathy Basterfield presented a paper on this topic at UD2021, and also see a previous post on plain language. 

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