International Plain Language Day 13 October

This Sunday marks International Plain Language Day. It is a time to celebrate and reflect on our successes in plain English – and the work left to do.

Our ultimate goal in our Plain English Service is to support organisations to make their information more accessible to their readers. Writing clear and compelling content benefits all readers, but especially those with literacy difficulties (1 in 6 adults in this country).


We want to pay special tribute to government departments working hard to produce information in plain English. These include the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (to name just two). There are many other organisations working away to make their writing more accessible.  Well done!

Join us in a toast

We are marking International Plain Language Day by issuing a press release and by holding several in-house meetings about our plans to develop our services in plain English. While the actual International Plain Language Day is this Sunday, our meetings won’t be! However, I certainly will raise a toast to all things plain English on the day itself. I hope you join me!


Claire O’Riordan


Over 400 attended the Plain Language Association International Conference

Yes, PLAIN’s 2019 conference in Oslo, Norway, was a tremendous success. The conference was hosted for PLAIN by the Language Council of Norway and Difi, Norway. NALA’s Plain English Co-ordinator helped with the preparations too – and it paid off.

It was a conference that had it all. There were over 100 speakers from 30 or so countries. Perhaps the highlight though was the announcement that the International Organization for Standards (ISO) agreed to undertake a plain language standards project. NALA is going to be involved in this project. We are very excited about it.

Other noteworthy inputs were given on ethics and plain language, inclusivity and plain language and a wide range of presenters talking about their research findings on the benefits of, yes, you guessed it, plain language! We are able to tout our work with the Department of Health, the HSE and others on a recent national letter hospital template which improved the response rate from patients by 20%. There was also significant international interest in Ireland’s Draft Plain Language Bill.

Next steps

We are working away looking at the learnings from the conference to see what are the next best steps for us as the national leaders in plain English. We will keep you posted!

Our thanks to Leargas and Epale for funding our participation in PLAIN’s 2019 excellent conference!


Learning at the Plain Language Association Internation Conference

This Tuesday, 21 September,  we are off to the Plain Language Association’s International (PLAIN’s) conference in Oslo. We will learn about the latest developments in plain language and see how they might you to further improve the quality and clarity of your information.  They will also help us develop the plain English services we can offer to you. We will write you a post about this important conference on our return.

We thank Leargas and EPALE for funding us to take part at this important conference.


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.