The State of the Literacy and Essential Skills Field Pan- Canadian Report is the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network's latest 'environmental scan' of Canada's literacy and essential skills status. It's a broad view of where we are and plain language does get a mention. But, only a small one. How can plain language play a bigger role?
The report highlights youth, seniors, immigrants and aboriginals as key players in the future of our growth (GDP) and economic development as a nation. One thing many of these key sector members share is language skill diversity. Like all workers, skill development is the glue that will strengthen their roles in the workplace, and hold our economy together as we face future challenges. But, for people with literacy or essential skill challenges, acquiring, using and enhancing skills is directly linked to comprehension. Plain language is the key to ensuring training - particularly materials - meet their needs.
Yet, still the new kid on the block, plain language's mention comes as a report recommendation for governments:
"1. Implement a plain language policy for all print materials in all languages." Page 70.
This is just the tip of the plain language discussion iceberg. We need to strengthen our ties with literacy and essential skills fields. We need plain language to be a key player, not just a mention, in studies. Now is the time.
Come to PLAIN 2013 Conference in Vancouver, Oct 10 -13. An exciting panel discussion is planned with representatives from literacy, essential skills, training and plain language fields. The panel will take the pulse of this key topic and see if there is a future for a healthy relationship.
Kate Harrison Whiteside has over 25 years experience in plain language, writing/editing, training and consulting.