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Case Study: Vermont Human Rights Commission

Project: Housing Rights Guide

Sector: Housing

Audience + Purpose: Help Vermont community members understand fair housing laws and what to do if they think their rights related to housing have been violated

Original Text (The Law)

The Fair Housing Provisions of Vermont Law Title 9 V.S.A. § 4503. Unfair housing practices


  • Lots of legalese including long sentences, uncommon vocabulary, and very dense blocks of text

  • Language is hard to relate to and makes it difficult for reader to relate to their own experiences


  • Create an overview of key aspects of the law and how the commission can help that is relatable yet informative

  • Incorporate a welcoming and helpful tone

  • Offer clear, actionable steps to take

Updated Excerpt

A guide to Vermont Fair Housing Laws. Know Your Rights and what you can do about housing-related discrimination. Layout is easier to read and includes a graphic.


Click the arrows to see each page.

What We Did:

  • Identified key ideas and organized in a logical order

  • Explained law and how it applies in concrete ways

  • Reduced jargon whenever possible

  • Used images and icons to anchor ideas and break up text

  • Added lots of spacing to avoid overwhelming the reader and increase accessibility

Big Takeaways:

  1. Legalese can often be vague and imprecise (sometimes on purpose!) so don't assume it's superior writing or can't be reimagined

  2. Embrace space and margins

  3. Make sure action steps are clear and obvious so people know what they can do and how to go about it

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