Foreword

We welcome this update of the Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service – A Universal Design Approach. Since its publication in June 2017, the Toolkit has been widely used across a variety of organisations in the Public Service. The Toolkit is recognised for offering clear and common sense advice. It earned the award for ‘Best use of Plain English by an Organisation’ for this Department and the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority, at the National Adult Literacy Agency Plain English awards in 2019.

This revised version reflects updates in legislation and terminology, and connects to Our Public Service 2020 (OPS2020), the Government reform framework for development and innovation. This Toolkit is now linked to the work of actions two and three of OPS2020, which refer to improving services for our customers and making services more accessible to all. More information on these and other actions under OPS2020 can be found at the OPS website, www.ops2020.gov.ie.
This revision also reflects the Toolkit’s success across the Public Service, where it has been widely used; feedback from users who refer to this Toolkit in their daily work has contributed to this revision. It is clear that the Toolkit has already made an impact. Users are learning the benefits of making communication clearer and more direct.
Communication with customers has been improved, and services are more accessible as a result.
The public expects to receive the best possible customer experience when they contact the Public Service, no matter what form that communication takes – Written, Spoken and Signed, or Digital. Clear communications are important for the provision of services that are accessible, and to ensure we meet the diverse needs of all of our customers. Public servants aim to deliver the highest quality service they can, and we need to ensure that they have the tools at their disposal to do so. This Toolkit is a handy desk guide, online reference and useful support document. It guides staff to use the simplest and clearest language possible. This Toolkit offers helpful hints and tips to support the delivery of Public Service information in a positive and effective way. It also includes guidance on general writing style principles, spoken and signed communications, design of forms and documents, web and social media content, and how to display signage.

This Toolkit also gives advice on maintaining a high quality of online services, while ensuring that websites are simple to navigate, and updated regularly.

I would like to thank the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority for their dedicated work in ensuring that this document continues to provide current and correct information, along with the OPS2020 Action 2 & 3 Team, who look at issues concerning improvement of services and access across the Public

Service. The Toolkit is an example of successful collaboration in the
Public Service, it improves how we communicate with customers, and
contributes to providing services that are easily accessible to all.

Paschal Donohoe, T.D.
Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform

Minister Paschal Donohoe

Patrick O'Donovan, T.D.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment