Welcome to the revised Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service - A Universal Design Approach. This Toolkit replaces the 2017 version to align with changes in related legislation and terminology - see the 'Learn More' box, below, for further information.
The guidance in this Toolkit can be used to inform the design and procurement of customer communications in the Public Service, and as a support to those working in contact with the public. It will also be useful to other organisations. The Toolkit is based on a Universal Design approach, promoted by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) at the National Disability Authority (NDA).
This revision was undertaken alongside the work of actions under Our Public Service 2020, (OPS2020), the Government reform framework for development and innovation. This Toolkit links to the works of actions two and three, which refer to improving services for our customers and making services more accessible to all, and operate under the pillar Delivering for Our Public. You can find more information on these and other actions under OPS2020 at www.ops2020.gov.ie.
In this toolkit you will find sections on the design of Written, Spoken & Signed, and Digital Communication. It is intended that this toolkit be used in the Public Service for planning, training and informing staff and contractors. The Toolkit sections contain selected design guidance, examples, tips, checklists and links to learn more. Parts from relevant sections can be used separately and can be made available at service locations. The last section has Question Sets to help check your customer service communication.
Development and procurement of communication designs should be guided by an awareness of the following sequence about how people interact with information:
1.Access (approach and perceive)
2.Understand (comprehend and decide)
3.Use (act or react)
Also, it is important to consider that the context of the physical and social environment affects how they interact with information.
Communication should always be provided in more than one format.
This toolkit complements the Plain English Style Guide for the Public Service developed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in partnership with the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA). Plain English is a way of presenting information that helps someone understand it the first time they read or hear it. Increasingly, 'plain language' is being promoted as an alternative to 'plain English'.
The Plain English Mark (above) is a respected quality mark awarded for documents and web text that meet international plain English guidelines. NALA sees this Toolkit as an exemplar of plain English in language, structure and design, and an excellent resource for those working in the public sector. The Toolkit earned the award for 'Best Use of Plain English by an Organisation' at the NALA Plain English Awards in 2019.