Monthly Archives: April 2009

Plain English Plain Language and Easy Read

Recently I have been talking with a few people about these three ways of conveying information, and have noticed a fair bit of confusion in how people understand them. I want to establish some clarity.

Plain English and plain language are essentially the same thing. Both are concerned with communicating in language that the audience can easily understand on a first reading. Plain English and plain language are not about dumbing down language, but about everyday clearly written prose which is free of jargon so the reader can find what they need, and understand and use the information.

Plain English applies equally to electronic and to all printed material.

Easy Read is quite different. It is an accessible alternative information format along with others such as large print or audio. Some features of easy read documents or web pages are easy words, big writing, and clear pictures. Sound – so that you can listen to the words can be used on web sites. Whether the information is in print or on the web it must also be easy to find the page you want.

The creation of Easy Read requires a careful simplification of the information which is usually targeted at adults not children. Those readers may have learning disabilities of various kinds, or have English as their second language. This format will also be useful for people who have poor literacy.

There is information on how to create Easy Read material on the Office for Disabilities Issues web site.  Information in easy read format is available from IHC Advocacy who have produced some excellent material in that format.

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From Waitangi to Wanaka

I have been revelling in having more family around me than I have had for a long time. Both daughters were at home and we have family for the UK here as well. It has been full on socialising with good food and wine, and a bit of work squashed in around the edges.

Enjoying my family and holidaying with them have been responsible for the lack of posts over the last few weeks. We travelled around the North and South Islands mostly by car which was very cool for someone who doesn’t drive.

We stayed at motels ancient and modern and visited places as diverse as the Bay of Islands where the weather was warm and the sun shone, and Lake Wanaka where it rained, and many places in between.

We introduced our English rellies to tuataras and the summer pleasures of birds and bush at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary and the culinary delight of Bluff oysters. Yum! Visitors are always a good excuse to sample great kiwi kai and wine! I will really have to start swimming again!

We tried the paddle steamer on the Wanganui or is it Whanganui river. The Waimarie is pleasantly slow and rather smutty – I mean coal smuts not the other kind. It was interesting to learn something about the history of the river, but I suspect it was sanitised.

Visiting the Govett Brewster gallery in New Plymouth was noisy and rather challenging with some very modern art – not quite sure about the continuous rounding up of the same mob of sheep, but I really like Len Lye’s work and look forward to visiting the planned Len Lye Centre one day. (The web site is hideous I have to say though.)

At the kiwi house at Otorohanga and I got closer to a large speckled kiwi than I have ever been to any kiwi! Another horrible web site.

We dove straight through Auckland (for once) and headed north to the Bay of Islands, stopping to see the huge graceful swamp Kauri carvings just outside Wellsford. The best bit for me though, was the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi. I understand that 80% of visitors are from overseas, yet there is so much of our own history there that I was very surprised by that figure. It is really worth a visit, and should be a ‘must do’ for all kiwis.

After all that, I took a flight to Christchurch with a change to some southern scenery. Omarama was our destination, with a call at Geraldine and Lake Tekapo on the way. The McKenzie County is just as breathtaking as I remember it, even with very little snow on the tops. Trees were beginning to turn; we ate salmon from the local salmon farm, watched our host and hostess water ski from their boat in late afternoon sunshine and spent an evening soaking steamily under the stars in a hot tub with scented wood smoke drifting lazily from the heating chimney. (They said they have an accessible tub and they are keen to attract older and disabled customers so check it out southerners.)

All good things must come to an end. Our UK rellies have gone home and our globe trotting daughter has set off on the next instalment of her OE, while the other one is immersed in work to save up for hers. Sadly I have no excuse now not to be working.

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