As we’ve continued to support states in their plain language work, state teams have surfaced certain questions over and over; these questions include How can I begin writing in plain language if I don’t have any experience?, How can I be certain that what I’ve written resonates with claimants?, and How can I ensure that what I or my colleagues write sounds like it came from our agency?
In response to these frequently asked questions, our Plain Language team developed three workshops to provide states with introductory knowledge and selected resources on the topics central to the questions: the foundations of plain language, content-specific user experience research, and crafting a consistent organizational voice.
To validate the usefulness of these workshops, we ran a pilot series with one state team, who provided helpful feedback; based on this feedback, we iterated on the presentations until they reached their current form. In September 2023, we hosted three webinars to present our workshop content to state teams, USDOL team members, content strategists and designers elsewhere within the civic tech community, and other people interested in the topics. Now, we’d like to share our presentation decks with anyone interested in sharpening their plain-language skills.
Use these decks in whatever way is helpful to your team – as an introduction to a topic, a quick refresher, or the jumping-off point for a longer course of self-directed study – and please share your feedback with us. If you have ideas for additional workshops you’d like to see, please also share those with us – we’d love to get a better sense of the language-focused content your team has questions about.