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Department of Public Expenditure, the National Disability Authority and the Passport Service are the winners at the Plain English Awards

11 February 2019

L to R: Inez Bailey, CEO, NALA; Paul Rowley, Passport Office - winner of Plain English in the digital world award; and Declan Black, Managing Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran

The winners of the Plain English Awards for Ireland, sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran, were announced by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) in Dublin today.

The winners in the ‘Best use of plain English by an organisation’ category, with a joint entry, were the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Disability Authority. Their winning entry is a Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service. The document shows workers in the public service how to produce communications that can be easily understood by members of the public.

In the digital category, the Passport Service won first place for their online passport renewal website. This service can be used by Irish citizens living anywhere in the world and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The full list of winning organisations are:

  • Organisation: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Disability Authority
    Document: Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service -
    A Universal Design Approach (see document here)
    Category: Best use of plain English by an organisation
     
  • Organisation: Passport Service
    Entry: Online passport renewal website (see website here)
    Category: Plain English in the digital world
     
  • Organisation: AIB
    Document: The impact of rewriting three customer letters in plain English (see letters here)
    Category: Plain English – the impact
  • Person: Clare O’Byrne

Entry: Financial letter (see letter here)

Category: Public category - best letter rewritten in plain English

  • Champions of plain English

 A champion of plain English is someone who promotes the use of clear communication and plain language in their organisation. At this year’s awards, the following people were recognised as champions of plain English:

Liam Ronayne from Cork Library

Patricia Carey from the Adoption Authority of Ireland

Norma Deasy from the HSE

Mike Gogan from AIB

The facilitators of the knowledge transfer and exchange workshop at the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care

 

About plain English

Plain English is a style of presenting information that helps you understand it the first time you read or see it. Plain English gives us information in a language we can understand and helps us to make informed choices. It is particularly important to provide information in plain language for people with literacy difficulties. Plain English can also save organisations time and money as clearer information is shown to reduce mistakes and complaints.

NALA’s Plain English Awards come at a time of increased focus on the importance of plain language. Fine Gael TD Noel Rock introduced a Plain Language Bill in the Dáil last week. Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin also introduced a Plain Language Bill in the Seanad. Both parties have been working with NALA to develop the Plain Language Bill. The Plain Language Bill aims to ensure that all information for the public from Government and State bodies is written and presented in plain language.

Reasons for winning:

  • Organisation: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Disability Authority
    Document: Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service -
    A Universal Design Approach
    Category: Best use of plain English by an organisation

Reason for winning: This document was the winner in its category because it shows workers in the public service how to produce communications that can be easily understood by members of the public. It provides a set of very clear, easy-to-follow guidelines about how to improve written, verbal and digital communications. The document is based on a universal design approach and includes useful examples of communications before and after plain English has been used.
 

  • Organisation: Passport Service
    Entry: Online passport renewal website
    Category: Plain English in the digital world

Reason for winning: This website was the winner in its category because it is accessible, easy to follow and uses plain English. People who use the website to renew a passport are told at the beginning of the process what they need to have ready in order to complete the application. The process is presented to users in a very clear, step by step fashion and it can be completed in less than five minutes.
 

  • Organisation: AIB
    Document: The impact of rewriting three customer letters in plain English
    Category: Plain English – the impact

Reason for winning: This entry was the winner in its category because it highlights the benefits for organisations of communicating in plain English. The entry consists of three letters to customers that AIB wrote in plain English. To measure impact, AIB tested the old version (before plain English was used) and the new version (after plain English was used) with 300 members of the public. Participants read both versions of each letter and told AIB which they prefer. The letters were presented randomly so there was no bias towards the new letters. In the case of each letter, the participants said that the new plain English versions were easier to understand and made the bank seem more approachable.

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