AHSS post-graduate research student Margaret Grene attended the 11th Plain Language Association International (PLAIN) conference in Austria in September 2017. Her attendance was funded by the AHSS postgraduate travel award.
Margaret’s research is exploring how health information providers can communicate with asthma patients using plain language, to help these patients use their asthma inhalers effectively. She is conducting this research in the Technical Communication and Instructional Design unit within the School of Culture and Communication, and her supervisors are Dr Yvonne Cleary and Dr Ann Marcus-Quinn.
The conference brought together the world’s leading plain language experts to share their experience, examples and research of how plain language improves communication across all sectors-public and private. Claire O’Riordan from the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) in Ireland told the story of how NALA has put plain English on the agenda of the Irish Government, businesses and public and private sector services. Dr Neil James (President of the Plain Language Association International) reviewed some of the ‘worst words’ of recent public discourse in English, and mapped where the most deceptive language is now occurring.
The conference also provided a platform to develop the theory and practice of plain language, and discussion of the latest research including the work of Dr Karel van der Waarde who presented his research on plain language in health: Beate Wiegard and Beate Zschorlich from the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany) who presented their research on evidence-based health information for hard-to-reach target groups; and Sarah Lane and Tara Droog who presented the research of the Irish Cancer Society on the information needs of men over 40 years of age, from lower socio-economic groups, taking into account potential literacy and numeracy barriers. At a gala event, Dr Annetta Cheek was presented the Christine Mowat Plain Language Achievement Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to advancing plain language.
This conference took place at the University of Graz, Austria from September 21st to September 23rd, 2017. The venue for PLAIN’s 12th international conference in September 2019 is Oslo, Norway.