Minister backs plain English policy

Minister for Social Affairs Seamus Brennan today pledged to implement a plain English policy in his department.

Minister for Social Affairs Seamus Brennan today pledged to implement a plain English policy in his department.

Mr Brennan made the vow as he launched ‘Simply Put’, a CD-Rom produced by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) aimed at saving time and reducing confusion.

He said that with an estimated 500,000 people in Ireland having poor literacy skills it is important that all organisations present information in an understandable and simple manner.

“Government departments and agencies, in particular, have a responsibility to provide information which will help people to understand and access their rights and entitlements,” he said.

“This excellent CD-Rom will assist in this task and is targeted at those who work in public, political and non-governmental organisations.”

Mr Brennan said the Department of Social Affairs is making every effort to follow a plain English policy.

“Nearly every citizen comes into contact with my department at some time in their life, either as a child, a pensioner, or maybe someone who is ill or loses their job,” he said.

“Many of our schemes, because they are designed to cover all eventualities, are very detailed and complex.

“We have been working closely with NALA, over the last two years, to ensure that all our application forms and explanatory booklets are, to borrow the title, as ’Simply Put’ as possible.

“This CD-Rom will save time and reduce costs by minimising confusion and complaints that may arise from information that is not only complex and confusing but can also be misleading.”

The ‘Simply Put’ CD-ROM gives advice, editing tips and training in the use of plain English, with the aim of minimising confusion that may arise from information that is unclear.

It is primarily aimed at staff in voluntary and statutory agencies such as Citizens Information Centres, Money Advice and Budgeting Services, VECs, Health Promotion Units, FÁS, local authorities, charities and research organisations.

The CD-Rom launch forms part of the National Adult Literacy Awareness Week which this year focuses on those who work in the public, political and non-governmental organisation sectors.

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