Plain Language Project

What is Plain Language?

According to the Federal Plain Writing Act of 2010, plain language is, "writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience." explains that material is in plain language if your audience can:

  • Find what they need,

  • Understand what they find the first time they read or hear it, &

  • Use what they find to meet their needs.

Why is Plain Language important for achieving environmental health & justice?

Environmental protection in the U.S. occurs through a complex system of federal, state, and local rules and enforcement. Major federal policies, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, give much authority to states in implementation.

Decisions at all levels of government often require public participation. Public comments are frequently sought on regulations, rules, plans, and laws. For instance, when a facility requests a permit to install for new equipment or processes that may lead to increases in pollution, the public is typically invited to provide public comments. Public comments can strengthen environmental decision-making processes and outcomes by providing the lead agency with facts or perspectives they had not acknowledged or addressed.

Plain Language is for everyone. It may help to improve meaningful participation in environmental decision-making, which is needed to achieve environmental justice.

Plain Language @ EGLE.pdf

Environmental Health Research-to-Action x Clear Language Lab

In 2020, EHRA joined with the Clear Language Lab to identify opportunities for increasing plain language in MI's environmental decision-making processes with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Read our final report here:

So...What Are You Saying? The Value of Plain Language

During the 2021 Michigan Environmental Justice Conference (MEJC), Samra'a Luqman, April Wendling, and EHRA's Dr. Natalie Sampson presented on the value of plain language. Click on the picture above for access to the recording.