NALA calls on local authorities to use plain English

Ireland has a referendum coming up on May 24. As part of this, the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) in Ireland is calling on local authorities to:

  • adopt plain English for all its written, verbal and online communication;
  • identify adult literacy skills as an issue and prioritise and develop local responses to supporting this; and
  • develop an adult literacy plan as part of their next Local Economic and Community Plan.

Learn more and remember to vote for candidates who support adult literacy and plain English on May 24.

Plain English Winners

Department of Public Expenditure, the National Disability Authority and the Passport Service win the Plain English Awards

This week we were delighted to announce the winners of the Plain English Awards for Ireland in the Law Society of Ireland. The awards were sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran.

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:

  • Passport Service
    Entry: Online passport renewal website
    Category: Plain English in the digital world
  • AIB
    Document: The impact of rewriting three customer letters in plain English
    Category: Plain English – the impact
  • Clare O’Byrne
    Entry: Financial letter
    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.


Aims of the awards
The aims of the Plain English Awards are to reward organisations that communicate clearly and to promote the use of plain English in all public information.

Organisers, sponsors and judges

The Plain English Awards are organised by NALA and sponsored by leading law firm Mason Hayes & Curran (MHC).

An independent panel of experts were involved in the judging process.

NALA and MHC thank all those who entered the awards. It is a very inspiring to see so many organisations committed to using plain English.


New Plain Language Bill launched!

For years, we have worked to promote plain English with political parties and others. And, yesterday, Tuesday 29 January 2019, we were delighted that a Plain English Bill was proposed. It has cross party support. This is a very positive step for plain English in this country.

We will keep you posted about developments!

Finally, we congratulate those who use plain English and encourage those who don’t to start!



2019 training days

We are delighted to announce plain English open one-day training dates (all Wednesdays) for 2019. Training is in Dublin though we may run courses in other regions as required.

  • April 10
  • May 8
  • June 12
  • September 18
  • October 16


Training costs just €120 per person or €100 if you are from the Community and Voluntary Sector. The days start at 9.30am and continues until 3pm. Lunch is not provided but you will have a fun and useful day and leave with an understanding of basic plain English writing and design guidelines.

Email Claire at if you would like to reserve a place. You will need to pay in advance. We look forward to hearing from you!

NALA to attend International Plain Legal Conference

This week, NALA is going to attend Clarity’s conference in Canada. Clarity is an international organisation for lawyers and others interested in plain legal language.

This conference is important, as we get to hear the latest developments in plain legal language.

At the conference, we also get the opportunity to meet board members of PLAIN. PLAIN stands for the Plain Language Association International . NALA is on its board and is helping it plan PLAIN’s next conference in 2019 in Norway.

Exciting times for plain English and plain language!



Join us at our conference on Friday 7 September

Adult literacy in Ireland: Challenges and solutions for communicating effectively with the public

One in six (520,000) adults in Ireland find reading and understanding everyday documents difficult: for example, reading a leaflet, bus timetable or medicine instructions. Lack of awareness of the extent and effect of low literacy levels in Ireland has meant that many organisations are not reaching – and often excluding – their customers. This is a waste of time and money. This conference will show that organisations that are aware of literacy issues and use plain English are more effective in meeting both the needs of the public and business.

Where: National College of Ireland, Mayor Street, Irish Financial Services Centre, Dublin 1, DO1 Y300

When: Friday 7 September 2018 from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm.

Registration is from 9.00 to 9.30 am and the conference starts at 9.30 am

Cost: There is no fee for attending this conference

Speakers and topics: 9.30 am to 3.00 pm

  • Introduction: Conor Pope, Author and Consumer Affairs correspondent, The Irish Times
  • Literacy levels in Ireland – their impact on individuals, society and the economy: Dr Inez Bailey, Chief Executive, National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA)
  • The personal consequences: Eamon Delaney, Adult Literacy Student, Tipperary Education and Training Board (ETB)
  • Plain English and the law: Attorney General, Séamus Woulfe
  • Understanding and responding to cancer patients’ information needs: Sarah Lane and Tara Droog, Cancer Information Editors, Irish Cancer Society
  • GDPR and the public, making the complicated accessible: MB Donnelly, Head of GDPR Awareness and Training, Assistant Commissioner, Data Protection Commission, Ireland
  •  Integrating literacy into apprenticeship programmes, workplace training and taster programmes for the unemployed: Joann Power, Adult Literacy Organiser, Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (ETB)
  • How document design can support people who struggle with reading; Rob Waller, Simplification Centre, UK
  • Communications: A bridge or a barrier? Jennifer Hanrahan, Senior Investigator, Office of the Ombudsman

Free workshops from 1.30pm 

  1. Writing clearly for the web
  2. Plain English
  3. How to be a literacy friendly organisation

 3.00    Close

Public transport: The nearest LUAS tram stop is Mayor Square (two stops after Busarus on the red line)

Parking: The NCI car park is on Alderman Way, Dublin 1 (Please note that NALA does not pay for participants’ parking)

You can book online here.

Training in Cork

Enrol now for an introductory course in plain English on 13 June in Cork. It costs just €120  – well worth the investment. Participants come from all sectors and the trainer has trained staff from regulatory bodies, private companies and charities.

It is particularly useful to consider plain English now as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is due to come into effect later this month (25 May). The GDPR is based on the principle of transparency and mentions the need for plain language seven times.  The GDPR requires us  to be clearer about what we do or plan to do  with personal information.

To make sure you get a place on our Cork plain English training course, book online now.


International Plain English Conferences 2018 and 2019

You might be interested to note that there are two important international plain English conferences coming up. One will be this year and the other will be in 2019.

2018 – Plain Legal Conference

The theme of the 2018 conference is Plain Language in Modern Times. This conference is run by Clarity, an international association promoting plain legal language.  It will be held in Montreal, Canada, from 25 – 27 October 2018.

Clarity conferences are always worth attending as you learn about updates in legislation around plain English, contract law and other interesting developments in the legal sector.

Clarity’s new president is Irish man, Eamonn Moran.

2019 – Plain English Conference

The second important conference to note is run by the Plain Language Association International (PLAIN). NALA hosted PLAIN’s 2015 conference in Dublin – one of its most successful conferences. Claire O’Riordan, NALA, also had the pleasure of speaking at its 2017 conference in Austria and announcing to delegates  the location of PLAIN’s 2019 conference which will be in Oslo, Norway.

The local organisers for PLAIN’s 2019 conference are:

  • Difi, The Norwegian Agency of Public Management and eGovernment, and
  • Språkrådet, The Norwegian Language Council.

They asked Claire O’Riordan, NALA’s Plain English Co-ordinator, to advise on the planning, delivery and evaluation of this conference. Claire has accepted and is looking forward to this challenge. The call for tenders will be in September. We will keep you posted.


Dates for training in 2018

Dates for Open Plain English Training 2018

We are delighted to announce the dates for our plain English introductory training courses for this year.

You can enroll for your preferred course by clicking the month of your choice. Demand is high, so it is best to book early. Training costs just €120 per person or €100 if you are from the Community and Voluntary Sector.

NALA also provides customised training for companies. For more information about this option, please contact Claire O’Riordan at