Should we change the name plain language to accessible language?
Plain language has always been about readers, users, viewers and listeners accessing information and acting on it. So has the term 'plain language' lost its impact? Do we need to progress to accessible language? Or, clear language? These and other topics surrounding the application of plain language will be debated, options explored and ideas reformed at the PLAIN 2013 Conference in Vancouver, Oct 10-13.
Plain language has been slowly working its way into government, legal, education, health and other fields for several decades. But, it really gets attention when a city or province or country tackles this mammoth task. Calgary, Alberta is a recent example.
It started with Ald. Druh Farrell proposing the city re-vive its plain language policy and live by it (July 2011). The mayor supported and staff started out on the plain language journey - with promotions, training and projects. This is how it is supposed to happen. One step at a time. And, the people who have to put the plan into practice are the ones who need the 'clearest' understanding about the role 'accessibility' plays in the process. This action is getting a lot of media attention - which is good, regardless of their take on it. Talking about plain language is a huge part of getting a policy, plan or project in motion. (Check out Key Advice Facebook Page for key links in this discussion).
This Plain 2013 conference blog post highlights how it is exploring the concept and practice of accessibility in everything from its plenary panel to World Cafe round robin sessions. And, it will be discussed, debated and re-defined by everyone there. From these interactions, plain language and accessibility will be clarified and perhaps a new 'name' for this important practice will be formed.
However, I don't think the name is as important as the practice. So call it what you will - just ensure 'accessibility' is at the heart of everything you do. And, get it integrated into your organization's strategy.
Join in. Register for the Conference and find out first-hand how integrating accessible language can help you, your organization and your clients.
Kate Harrison Whiteside has over 25 years experience in plain language, writing/editing, training and consulting.