I am delighted to welcome publication of the updated and newly titled ‘Customer Communications Toolkit for Services to the Public — A Universal Design Approach’. This edition includes improvements made as a result of user feedback, and updates to reflect recent changes in legislation and terminology. These latest updates ensure the toolkit continues to be a vital resource to support the design of trusted, effective and accessible communications.

Since its initial publication in June 2017, the Toolkit has improved how we communicate with customers. It helps to ensure we provide services that are accessible to everyone. The Toolkit has been widely used across the Public Service to inform planning, training and procurement, and to guide suppliers when providing services on behalf of, or to, public service organisations.

The Toolkit explains the importance of simple, clear language for effective communications. It contains guidance on written, spoken and signed communications, plus specific guidance on designing forms, documents and signage. It also highlights the importance of offering communications in more than one format. In addition, it provides guidance on developing and maintaining high-quality online services, which are user-centred, regularly updated and easy to navigate.

The Civil Service Renewal 2030 strategy provides a clear commitment to bring service users to the centre of everything we do, so that our services are more accessible, effective and better value for money. This updated Communications Toolkit is one of a number of initiatives which supports us to achieve these goals and to deliver customer-focused, innovative services to the public. I am confident these commitments will feature prominently in the forthcoming programme of transformation for the wider Public Service, and the Toolkit will be an important support as we implement continued transformation.

I am especially pleased that the Toolkit continues to be an example of successful collaboration in the Public Service. I would like to thank the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) at the National Disability Authority (NDA) for their dedicated work in developing this edition with the Public Service Transformation Delivery team in the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform.

I would also like to recognise the work of the Quality Customer Service Network and Steering Group, made up of Public Service representatives, in ensuring continuous improvement in the standard of services we provide, and for their input in developing this update. Finally, I would like to thank the many sectoral experts and representative bodies who helped shape this latest edition of the Toolkit, including the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA).

The guidance in this Toolkit supports our public service to deliver better services which adhere to the guiding principles of Quality Customer Service. The Toolkit supports organisations to ensure all communications created by them (or on their behalf) are accessible. Importantly, by applying the guidance in the Toolkit, public service bodies and others can demonstrate they are meeting their statutory obligations.

I encourage anyone engaged in providing services to the public, either direct or contracted, to use this updated edition of the ‘Customer Communications Toolkit for Services to the Public’. This will ensure that, together, we continue to provide excellent services to the people of Ireland.

Minister Paschal Donohoe, TD

Paschal Donohoe, T.D., Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform

Minister Ossian Smyth, TD

Ossian Smyth, T.D., Minister of State for Public Procurement, eGovernment, Communication and Circular Economy