What’s in a word? Defining our future and describing our past, words hold much power as they convey what we need to understand to function in society. But poorly written texts or bureaucratic jargon can jeopardize that power and build barriers between readers and communicators. International Plain Language Day aims to break down those barriers, and an upcoming ISO standard will be a strategic tool to help.
“Access for All: Plain Language is a Civil Right” is the theme of this year’s International Plain Language Day, which is held on 13 October each year to encourage governments and industries to make their communications more accessible. It highlights the crucial importance of this in contexts such as the health and justice systems, in which a person’s clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities is essential for their fair and just treatment.
To support this, ISO is currently developing a new standard, ISO 24495, Plain language – Part 1: Governing principles and guidelines, which will provide authors in most languages with an approach that helps them communicate effectively with their audiences. It will feature high-level principles, guidelines and techniques to help writers everywhere produce communications that work.
Christopher Balmford, Project Leader of the group of experts developing the standard, said it is essential that communication in regulatory or health settings is effective because people use that information to make decisions about their businesses, their families and their lives.
“Everyone has a right to be informed of their rights and their responsibilities in all aspects of their life, but poor communication can hinder this substantially,” he said.
ISO 24495 is currently being developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 37, Language and terminology, the secretariat of which is held by SAC, ISO’s member for China.