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That's a wrap! Highlights from 2022 at the Clear Language Lab

If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen people posting their 2022 Wrapped from Spotify for the year, highlighting their musical trends and tastes from the past 12 months. For this month’s blog, here’s the Clear Language Lab version of things that Melanie and I are celebrating as we wrap up 2022.

We grew

Headshot photo of Sarah, a white woman with brown hair and glasses

In June, I joined the Clear Language Lab. As someone who spent years working in adult education in Chicago, I was so thrilled and honored to join the Literacy Works team.

Working with Melanie at The Clear Language Lab has been an amazing experience so far. I’ve worked with people from a wide range of sectors and learned so much. It’s humbling and exciting to know how many people come to our workshops eager to learn and share plain language in their communities.

We provided plain language training to a lot of people

In 2022, we trained more than 900 people across our in-house workshops, conferences, coaching, and tailored training sessions.

We love that we get to work with so many different people who share our vision of a more just and equitable world. Plain language is one of the many tools we can use to move the needle.

We nurtured relationships

Every year, it’s exciting to see where our projects will take us. This year, we deepened long-term ongoing relationships with a number of amazing organizations who continue to champion plain language, including Evanston Community Foundation, Restore Justice, Housing Action Illinois, Schuler Scholars, and many others. We also developed valued new relationships working with entities such as the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Minnesota Homeownership Center, and Vermont Human Rights Commission.

We have been thrilled to see the commitment and passion so many staff have shown by prioritizing plain language and equitable communication in their work.

We got to go on the road

We love our hometown of Chicago but also appreciate the opportunities to connect with people all over the country. Our team was able to present in a variety of national settings on plain language and equity. Just a few of our highlights presenting about plain language and communication equity:

  • Institute for Healthcare Advancement Annual Conference

  • Literacy Texas Annual Conference

  • National Association of State Workforce Agencies Summit

  • NTEN’s National Technology Conference

  • Wisconsin Literacy Health Summit

Melanie posed in front of her slide presentation
Melanie presenting at Literacy Texas' Annual Conference in August

We built community

One of our favorite parts of this work is meeting with our Community Voices group. Folx around the Chicago area and beyond join us virtually to talk about various projects. We had more than 80 touchpoints through meetings and surveys with more than 20 people. Their feedback and insights are invaluable.

As one member said, “Learning new things everytime and being a part of this community and helping make a difference is a great feeling.” We couldn’t agree more!

We got to work with people across sectors

We know that plain language is critical to every aspect of mission-driven work. We love getting to work together with folx across housing, workforce, adult education, healthcare, advocacy work, education, government, and more.

We know the work is all connected — and clear, effective communication is important no matter what your role or sector!

We continued learning and sharing

We know that there is always room to grow, especially when it comes to language and our ever changing world. Here are just a few of our favorite and most used plain language resources in 2022:

Coming up in 2023

We’re looking forward to many of the projects on our horizon. 2023 will kick off with a blog on “Committing to Plain Language in the New Year” and our format training, “How to Make Better Handbooks” on January 19. We’ll cover tips and strategies for handbooks and other longform documents.

Join us in February for our next Writing for Understanding cohort, or pop into our Community of Practice group on February 16. And get excited: we’re working on a new learning opportunity that’s anticipated to launch in the spring.

Thanks for joining us on this journey! See you in the new year ✌🏻❤️

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