Plain Language is for Everyone

When we developed the Clear Language Lab, we knew that there were fundamental issues with public-facing documents like flyers, forms, web content, and other everyday communications that we wanted to address in our work to make systems more accessible to communities.

But we’ve also seen folx in our orbit bringing other communications to us that need to be written with a plain language lens, too. Here are just a few examples that you might recognize from your own work.

Internal Communications

Whether you work at a non-profit, government agency, or some other mission-driven organization, it’s easy to forget that your colleague down the hall might not have the same knowledge base as you.

A study of malpractice cases in 2015 revealed that provider to provider miscommunication occurred in more than half of the cases examined!

Examples of documents we have revamped recently:

  • Human resources documents tailored to provide guidance to managers and transparency to staff

  • Internal memos ensuring policies for supporting community members are clear so that they can be delivered equitably

If you want to truly collaborate and work in the same direction, understanding the work happening and being able to support each other is critical. That means not taking for granted that you are all on the same page in the an organization, department, or even program.

Big Takeaway: Use plain language principles with your staff and colleagues, too. Break down information to the level needed. Prioritize key info. Be thoughtful even in everyday communications like emails with expectations, timelines, and acronyms.