The legal dilemma: Plain language changes in the municipality of Stevns

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Abstract

Plain language changes in the municipality of Stevns
In 2014 the municipality of Stevns in Denmark carried out a pilot project to initiate a plain language initiative covering the entire municipality. The pilot project involved a small section of Social Services and dealt with the reformulation of a series of letters.
The group consisted of the project leader, the section’s head, and five staff members. The staff members went through the letters that they send out to citizens in order to edit them to plain language principles.
I followed the process from beginning to end by observing meetings, interviewing central participants in the pilot project, and by carrying out a small questionnaire based survey and a series of interviews with members of the letters’ target group.
One of the most prevalent challenges addressed by the group was how to make sure to address legal matters properly.
In my presentation, I will focus on how the group included legal matters in the new letters, and how the pilot project group involved legal advice in their considerations. I will also discuss how and when to introduce legal advice in the letter editing process, drawing on the experiences of the group members as reflected in the discussions in the group and in the interviews with group members.
Another discussion that I would like to address in my presentation is how education in the professional setting of a local council can help staff educate each other with the underlying hope of firmly anchoring the plain language changes aimed at.

What to learn from the presentation:
•How to design a plain language project
•How to include legal advice in a plain language project
•How to design a study of plain language changes
Original languageEnglish
Publication date19 Sep 2015
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2015
Event10th International PLAIN Conference: Clearer language, greater efficiency and effectiveness - Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 17 Sep 201520 Sep 2015
http://plain2015.ie/

Conference

Conference10th International PLAIN Conference
LocationDublin Castle
CountryIreland
CityDublin
Period17/09/201520/09/2015
Internet address

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