Encouraging officers to use plain language and communicate effectively with their residents, the Local Government Asssociation (LGA) has produced a list of 200 words and phrases currently used by councils, that make very little sense to most people. The LGA recognises that words sometimes used by public sector bodies make their services inaccessible, as people fail to understand their relevance. In turn, this reduces their chances of getting the right assistance at the earliest opportunity.
It is therefore essential that all matters are explained to people in plain, simple and clear English. This is even more important today, given that Britain is so multicultural, with many people accessing public body services without English as their first language.
For example, you should avoid using:
- best practice
- service users
And in their place, encourage the use of:
- best way
- many groups
Whilst this observation has been made by the LGA, it is of course just as applicable to Registered Providers. The use of plain language benefits all those concerned, as it:
- breaks barriers between professionals in the public sector and local people
- eliminates meaningless language
- is far more effective, and can result in fewer calls and/or letters from people due to misunderstanding or confusion, resulting in less pressure being put on the professionals
- can help reduce the drain on finances for queries that could otherwise have been resolved through using plain, simple language in the first place
Communicating with your customers should be easy: it is about having a common understanding of what is being communicated. If the message is not getting across, then what is the point? Use plain language!"
This list is long overdue. I wonder what the same list would look like for designers? What word would be at the top of the list?
(Via. 'Try using plain english')