Plain English Awards 2016, sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran

EirGrid wins Plain English Awards

The winners of the Plain English Awards for Ireland, sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran, were announced by the National Adult Literacy Agency in Dublin on Thursday 9 February 2017.

Overall winner: EirGrid for their document ‘Have your say - how we develop the electricity grid, and how you can influence our plans’.

Category winners:

  • Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions: ‘Going to court as a witness’.
  • Down Syndrome Ireland: Employment letter and survey.
  • Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre and the Marie Keating Foundation: Be Breast Cancer Aware information.
  • Irish Lung Fibrosis Association: National Patient Charter.
  • Guide to the PAYE tax system
  • The Heartbeat Trust: Poster about the main symptoms of heart failure.

The aim of the Plain English Awards is to reward organisations that communicate clearly in plain English. Over fifty organisations entered the competition by submitting documents that they thought were outstanding examples of plain English and an independent panel of plain English experts judged the entries.

All the award winners won for presenting their information clearly in plain English. The independent judges were very impressed with how all the winners communicated directly to the intended reader through language that was easy to read and understand.

The Plain English Awards are organised by the National Adult Literacy Agency and sponsored by leading law firm Mason Hayes & Curran. The Awards were presented at a Gala Dinner in the Law Society of Ireland, Dublin.

Speaking about the awards, Inez Bailey, CEO, National Adult Literacy Agency said: “We developed these awards as we want to create a public preference for organisations that choose to communicate in plain English. We were delighted to get so many entries from organisations around the country as everyone benefits from clear information, written in plain English. We would like to congratulate EirGrid, Director of Public Prosecutions, Down Syndrome Ireland, Pavee Point and the Marie Keating Foundation, Irish Lung Fibrosis Association,, Bord Gais and the Hearbeat Trust. They have won this award for thinking of the people who use their service and putting them first.”

Commenting on the sponsorship, Declan Black, Managing Partner at Mason Hayes & Curran said: “As a law firm we are delighted to be promoting the use of plain English rather than legal gobbledegook! Our approach at Mason Hayes & Curran is to ensure that our legal advice is always clear and accurate, particularly when complex issues are being explained. The use of plain English is aligned with that approach.  We hope that our support of this award contributes to the use of plain language in everyday communications and we congratulate the winners on a job well done.”

Plain English is a style of presenting information that helps you understand it the first time you read or see it. It involves short clear sentences, and using everyday words and imagery. It is particularly important to provide information in plain English for people with literacy difficulties.


More information about the winners

Document: Have your say - how we develop the electricity grid, and how you can influence our plans
Category: Energy and overall winner
Reason for winning: This document was the winner in its category because it explains clearly how energy customers can have their 'say' in how EirGrid consults with the public and other stakeholders about developing the electricity grid. It tells the public what it can expect from EirGrid, and clarifies what EirGrid would like from the public to make the best possible decisions around EirGrid projects. The core of the document is a six-step process for each EirGrid project and how the public can have its say at each step.

See document here

Organisation:Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Document: Going to court as a witness
Category: Information for the public
Reason for winning: Going to court can be stressful for many victims and witnesses. This booklet provides clear and relevant information to help people understand what happens in court. The booklet explains what being a witness means and also outlines the help that is available for witnesses. It also answers the questions that people often ask when they have to go to court as a witness.

See document here

Organisation:Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre and the Marie Keating Foundation
Document: Be Breast Cancer Aware
Category: Health Information for the public
Reason for winning: This entry is a small card that is designed for carrying in a wallet. It clearly illustrates five steps for women to take to check their breasts. It also provides information and contact details about where to go for help if they are concerned about breast cancer.

See document here
Document: Guide to the PAYE tax system
Category: Finance
Reason for winning: This document explains, using illustrations and easy to follow information, the Irish PAYE tax system. It is designed to help people who find the system confusing. It explains terms used on a PAYE payslip, also outlines what tax reliefs are available and explains how to calculate tax credits.

See document here

Organisation:Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI)
Document: Employment letter and survey
Category: Health-Patient tools and resources
Reason for winning: This document won because it successfully manages to communicate with its audience about why the DSI are conducting a survey on employment and what purpose people’s responses will serve.  The clarity of expression and use of simple photographs in the document was excellent.

See document here

Organisation:Irish Lung Fibrosis Association
Document: National Patient Charter
Category: Patient information leaflets
Reason for winning: This entry won because it empowers patients to become partners in their healthcare by informing them of available services and supports.

See document here

Organisation:The Heartbeat Trust
Document: Poster about the main symptoms of heart failure
Category: Health Posters and Bookmarks
Reason for winning: The poster highlights, in a clear and understandable manner, the main symptoms of heart failure.

See document here

Organisation:Bord Gais
Document: Tone of Voice Resource
Category: Internal Resources
Reason for winning: These documents won because they clearly communicate how and why Bord Gais developed a new tone of voice resource for staff.

See document here

Writing and design tips

Our website is a valuable resource for those who want to learn more about communicating in plain English. Why not check it out?