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Oct 14, 2011

Plain Language Required

     Did you know that the Plain Language Act went into effect yesterday? The Act requires Social Security and other agencies to:
(A) designate 1 or more senior officials within the agency to oversee the agency implementation of this Act:
(B) communicate the requirements of this Act to the employees of the agency;
(C) train employees of the agency in plain writing;
(D) establish a process for overseeing the ongoing compliance of the agency with the requirements of this
Act;
(E) create and maintain a plain writing section of the agency’s website as required under paragraph (2) that is accessible from the homepage of the agency’s website; and
(F) designate 1 or more agency points-of-contact to receive and respond to public input on—

(i) agency implementation of this Act; and
(ii) the agency reports required under section 5.
     Thanks to Fedblog for reporting on this. Social Security has the website. There is an official agency plan. Robin Kaplan is in charge of the effort at Social Security.
     I suggest starting with the form letter that Social Security uses to tell people that a hearing office has received a request for hearing. At least, I think the one I have seen here for decades is used nationally. It tells claimants that they will receive 20 days notice of a hearing. I think that half the people receiving that letter think that their hearing is coming up within 20 days after they receive the letter when their hearing may actually be a year or more later. I know that is a misreading but one part of plain writing is trying to reduce misunderstandings.

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  • 5 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    They can't even get the Password Request Code notice instructions that are sent out for people to register a password to match the Web site and this has been known for months.

    10:14 AM, October 14, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    plain language can't make up for people's inability to read

    1:28 PM, October 14, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This "plain language" stuff is an old story. Just try to "translate" SSI notices into plain English.

    1:42 PM, October 14, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    In my office, we pride ourselves on diverisity of the staff which means we have many bilingual employees in many languages. It is very helpful in assisting our immigrant population. However, I have observed that the employees who did learn English as their second language (being immigrants themselves) have a more difficult time writing proper sentences and paragraphs with correct spelling. Don't know how the plain language initiative will help them.

    11:41 AM, October 15, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So when will hearing decision notices be written in plain language?

    1:15 PM, October 15, 2011  

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