Clear communication in the public sector put to the test around the world

Buying insurance in Portugal? Buying a house in Chile? Buying out a business in the United States? Or buying into a submission process in New Zealand? There’s one thing you’ll need — clear information.

Clear information to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

People overwhelmingly prefer information to be in plain language, no matter where they live and no matter what language they speak.

Are plain Portuguese and plain Spanish the same as plain English?

An international plain language survey seeks to find out just how governments around the world are implementing plain language initiatives, and how people rate their success.

Portuguese plain language pioneers Claro, with the Plain Language Association International (PLAIN), will launch a pilot phase of the survey in January 2017. Portugal, Chile, the United States, and New Zealand will be test pilots in this first flight of the survey.

Image, two people with a large telescope.

Checking out the scope of plain language around the world. Image by European Southern Observatory / CC BY 2.0

What are governments doing and is it working?

Central government representatives, public sector agencies, and the public will be asked these questions.

The survey will be rolled out to other countries in 2018 and 2019, and will include other languages.

Dr Neil James, president of PLAIN, says a key potential outcome is to show what governments can achieve, and what is working well for people around the world.

Almost nothing helps to persuade organisations of the value of plain language as much as case studies around the world.

Sandra Fisher-Martins of Claro has long argued against ‘information apartheid’. She says people need clear information to be able to make choices about their lives.

Have we got it right?

Like all good communicators, the survey team is testing out its questions before the pilot study. If you’re a member of PLAIN or Clarity  try out the survey and offer feedback before 16 December 2016.

The four-country pilot programme takes place in January 2017.

Find out more about the pilot programme and survey

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