ED Asks the Public to Help with “Plain Writing” Effort

Today the Department of Education joined a government-wide effort to improve communication from federal agencies to the general public.

The focus is on “plain writing,” i.e., writing that is clear, concise and well-organized, and avoids jargon, redundancy, ambiguity and obscurity. Such clear communication benefits the public by making it easier to understand and apply for important benefits and services. And it helps the public meet requirements that apply to them simply because they can now understand what they are supposed to do. ED is joining the plain writing effort not only to meet a legal requirement but also as an essential step in meeting President Obama’s goals for the government of openness, public participation, and collaboration with the American people.

In accordance with the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires agencies to write “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use,” ED has posted a Plain Writing web page and invited members of the public to help us ensure that our documents are clear and accessible. The new web page asks customers to tell us about specific publications that might be hard to understand.

In addition, the Department is announcing plans to train our staff and strengthen our oversight processes to ensure that we use plain language in any document or web page that is necessary for obtaining benefits or services — or that explains how to comply with any requirement that ED administers. Next month, we will post a report detailing ED’s progress in complying with the Plain Writing Act.

Visit our Plain Writing web page.

2 Comments

  1. Please share this with all departments !! Where is cursive writing ? I am no longer able to communicate with my Grandchildren via hand written notes. They must have a translater to read my notes to them. They can no longer read old family letters . They no longer have a Signature. How will they sign legal documents ?

    • I’m not certain that what you are speaking of is the concept behind ‘plain writing’. What you are talking about would be better addressed with your grandchildren. I believe that students still learn cursive (all that I know do). This, I believe, is intended to clarify the legal-speak of the state departments.

      To ed.gov: You folks do an excellent job of clarifying the legal aspects of education already! This is one of the few governmental websites that goes out of its way to simplify the language, to make it accessible to more members of society – for example, the video about the changes to NCLB.

      So, to ed.gov, thanks!

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