Plain Language Association InterNational (PLAIN) surveyed members and took action on their request for more digital content. During International Plain Language Month (October), PLAIN Matters live host Romina Marazzato Sparano interviewed fellow Plain Language Academy team members to find out where the profession is headed. Here are some #PlainLanguageAcademy team insights.
Chantale Audet, Autrementdit.Ca: Global expansion of plain language comes with the fact we are stronger together.
Sarah Slabbert, Plain-Language.Co.Za: Plain Language has evolved over the past number of years from narrowly focusing on language to include design, user needs assessment, and usability testing. This broadening of the scope of Plain Language is an exciting development that makes it essential for the communication platforms of the digital age.
Romina Marazzato Sparano, LanguageCompass.Com and Lenguajeclaro:
We are growing and we are stronger together. We are moving forward and looking at guidelines for many languages. The better the start, the better results.
Promoting plain language
Kate Harrison Whiteside, PlainLanguageAcademies.Com: We are moving into the human age of plain language, we’re involving audiences. We just can’t afford to be unclear.
Chantale Audet, Autrementdit.Ca: We have to keep up our advocacy work: plain language is a very important tool to improve human lives. It helps achieve UN sustainability goals and empowers people to have their rights respected, make better choices for their lives.
Sarah Slabbert, Plain-Language.Co.Za: Ask clients what they are spending and what are they are gaining. How much money are you wasting producing communications that aren’t read or understood and are thrown away?
Nicole Watkins Campbell, Plain Words: It’s just crucial that we have governments, organizations and companies who have those skills to communicate clearly, simply, effectively and efficiently because there’s almost always going to be a reader or listener who is trying to translate while they take in your message.
Kate Harrison Whiteside, PlainLanguageAcademies.Com: Two students with disabilities are studying about plain language at the Academy so they can tell people to consider audience accessibility when they’re communicating and understand the role plain language plays.
Sarah Slabbert, Plain-Language.Co.Za: Our experience as instructors of students from different types of organizations from different sectors and our experience in working with corporate clients has taught us that there is not a one-size-fits-all strategy to implement plain language. You have to tailor it for specific needs.
Cheryl Stephens, CherylStephens.Com: We need to get our clients to stop for a moment and consider the situation and background of their readers. Practitioners need to get up to date on recent science in communication, modernize what clear communication means.
Involving readers and end-users
Chantale Audet, Autrementdit.Ca: There’s so much to be gained by involving readers from the beginning of the process. Ask them about what they already know, what they need to know, and their ideas how we can best convey the information. When we have readers on our team they can help us see if we are on the right track, if there’s an information gap, or if we need to clarify something.
Sarah Slabbert, Plain-Language.Co.Za: Often the communication process only includes the plain language practitioners right at the end. And then, if you have the budget you test with end-users. That’s hopelessly too late. You will have a much more effective process if you bring practitioners and end-users in at the beginning.
ISO (Plain language standard coming in 2023)
Chantale Audet, Autrementdit.Ca: The issues around and standards. I think having standards helps us explain to French-speaking communities what plain language means. We always see a reaction when we say ISO standards are coming. It really convinces.
Nicole Watkins Campbell, Plain Words: There are so many people who don’t understand what plain language is. The more people who are describing it in the same way, the easier to hear exactly what it is. It will give us something to go back to when we are teaching.
Romina Marazzato Sparano, LanguageCompass.Com and Lenguajeclaro: Plain language ISO standard will need people’s alignment not hesitation around regulations. In reality, the idea of ISO is the opposite: it is about guidelines for clarity of the process behind the communication. One of the aspects of standards being embraced is the human intervention, especially for tasks, like translation, which are becoming increasingly automated. We need to have that human intervention.
Cheryl Stephens, CherylStephens.Com: I see the ISO standard as a means of quality control. When Kate and I founded Plain Language International, over 30 years ago, this was one of our main concerns. We were having to repeat our pitch on what plain language is and why it would be beneficial.
Kate Harrison Whiteside, PlainLanguageAcademies.Com: For the first time we will have a unified or a set of guidelines that we can all use. The guidelines will be set, and they will make what we offer to others even stronger.
Nicole Watkins Campbell, Plain Words: So much worth celebrating. We have online training. People can study when they want, and many opportunities to learn. There are so many people in so many languages who understand the importance of plain language and want to learn, especially about health.
Romina Marazzato Sparano, LanguageCompass.Com and Lenguajeclaro: We are growing and we are stronger together. We are moving forward and looking at guidelines for many languages, the better the start, the better the results.
Cheryl Stephens, CherylStephens.Com: When Kate and I founded #IPLDay in 2011 we wanted to celebrate progress. For 30 years we’ve been making slow progress. Look at all the work our organizations have accomplished. It’s time to celebrate.
We encourage you to celebrate your #PlainLanguage achievements all year long.
#PlainLanguage #LearningExperience #GlobalEducation #ISO #IPLFederation #PLISO #IPLDay
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