UPA Supports Easier Access to Government for all Citizens
January 28, 2008
The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Bruce Braley, U.S. House of Representatives
Dear Senator Akaka and Congressman Braley,
The Usability Professionals' Association supports efforts to encourage easier access to government by all citizens. One way to achieve this is through greater use of plain language in all government communications. We commend you for introducing H.R. 3548 and S.2291 The Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2007.
We believe that the principles of plain language—language that is clear and readily understandable to the intended reader—are as important in the public sector as they are in private industry. All citizens have a right to know what their government is doing, and the mandate in H.R. 3548 and S.2291 that any “letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction” be issued in plain language will help achieve this goal, and improve the civic experience.
As usability professionals, our members see first hand the costs of documents, software and web sites that are hard to use and difficult to understand. Communications with poor usability often increase the cost of providing training, and result in costly errors, and the extra work to correct those mistakes. Customer support costs increase, and confusion creates frustration. Plain language is not a complete solution, but it is an important step in promoting a more efficient and transparent government. At a minimum, people using government communications should be able to find the information they need, understand what they find, and use that information effectively.
Plain language is simply common sense. Citizens, business and the government itself will see the benefits of plain language in effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. Once again, we would like to congratulate you on the introduction of H.R. 3548 and S.2291 and thank you for your leadership in making government communications easier to understand.
The Usability Professionals' Association is an international, non-profit, professional association with more than 2500 members in the US and 35 other countries. Members are specialists in evaluating and designing products that are easy to learn and use. The organization provides its members with a wide variety of professional services. Through outreach the UPA:
- Shares information about the skills and approach of usability professionals in meeting needs for usable products.
- Acts as an advocate for usability in consumer, corporate and governmental software, products and web sites.
- Educates the general public about the usability.
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