Claudia Johnson on Plain Language Resources

Two new Plain Language Resources for Courts and Access to Justice Initiatives

In November 2012, the Maryland Access to Justice Commission released a plain plain language guide specifically for those writing instructions and materials for court users. The guide is full of practical guides, examples, and provides very clear rules on how to simplify instructions and court based materials.

Allison Parker, staff attorney and policy analyst at the Commission was the lead person behind the guide.  The guide is chokeful of helpful information, it even has a suggestion on how to check materials so that they are accessible to color blind readers!

Here is an example of a section, that shows how easy to access the information here is:

plainAnother wonderful set of resources was released in December 2012. Jeff Hogue from LAWNY, released a new set of resources on plain language, available to all groups working on access to justice initiatives here

With funding from the Legal Services Corporation TIG grants and with Transcend Inc. LAWNY’s has become a great repository of examples of ways to provide legal information, concepts, and instructions using simple, non legal, non-jargon terms in plain language.

In my opinion, the cornerstone of these materials is the 96 page The Essential Plain Language Collection, that contains readable documents, before and after comparison of documents, and very good tips. But there is more than this very complete guide or collection here. has a fantastic library that offers plenty of models in Spanish, English, and other languages of documents that courts and legal services will find helpful. There is also a “gadget” that lets you enter a word or phrase and the “gadget” tells you how readable or not your word work is, using well recognized standards.

For those who want to learn or teach others about plain language, the site offers an online course—that lets a person interested in improving writing for self represented or non attorney audiences go through an online course to improve.

New resources are posted on the site as they get completed, so this is a site to visit often to see what new tools or resources have been posted. A report  is coming up and will be shared on machine assisted translation.

If you have any questions regarding any of the resources available on, please email jhogue(at)


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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