Access to public services

NALA believes that all citizens should have fair and equal access to all public services, that are delivered in a literacy-friendly way. Being literacy-friendly means removing any literacy-related barriers that could make it difficult for people to access the service, or participate in the activities that the organisation provides.

What it achieves

In everyday terms, a literacy-friendly organisation enables the public with literacy and numeracy difficulties to:

  • access and participate in its services,
  • communicate effectively with it, in different ways,
  • apply for positions for which they have an aptitude and relevant experience,
  • be included in consultations,
  • be treated fairly in light of their general performance and interaction with others,
  • understand and apply internal policies and procedures, and
  • receive effective training to help them carry out their jobs to the best of their ability.

Cross-party support for new Plain Language Bill

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock has introduced a Plain Language Bill in the Dáil on Thursday 31 January 2019. Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has also introduced a Plain Language Bill in the Seanad. Both parties have been working with the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) to develop the Plain Language Bill.

The Plain Language Bill aims to ensure that all information for the public from Government and State bodies is written and presented in plain language.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock said that while some government forms are already in accessible language “it’s clear we need a universal standard across all Departments”.

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said that given one in six of the adult population has very low literacy levels “the State must work harder to make all public services accessible.”

All public information such as letters, forms and documents produced by Government and State agencies will be required to be written in plain language under the proposed new laws.

Michael Power (55), a former literacy student from Tipperary, said the proposed Plain Language Bill is a “brilliant opportunity” and that he hopes it goes further and “changes people’s lives”.


What happens next?

The power to make new laws is the sole responsibility of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Dáil Éireann has the primary role in relation to legislation as it is directly elected by the people. All proposed new laws are introduced into the Oireachtas as Bills. When the Government wants to propose a law, the Cabinet approves the Bill and the relevant Minister brings it before the Oireachtas. Opposition parties or Members can also bring forward their own Bills, usually during Private Members’ time. If the Bill gets passed by the Oireachtas, it becomes an Act, which means that it becomes law.


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