Simple language is very important for functionally illiterate (or low-literate) consumers. Does your organisation serve consumers who struggle to read or understand your documents?  Do your staff members fluent in other official languages struggle to translate your documents in a way your customers understand?

Translating documents into all the official languages is helpful.  However, ordinary plain language is often not enough if you serve low-literate or second-language clients.  A simple language translation can be the best route to plain language compliance. Some people call it a grassroots translation.

Why is a simple translation necessary?

Protecting Functionally Illiterate Consumers

A notice or document is in plain language if the vocabulary, usage and sentence structure:

  • Can be understood without undue effort
  • By the ordinary consumer of the class of persons for whom it is intended
  • With average literacy skills
  • With minimal experience as a consumer of the goods and services

The most basic legal principle is that contracting parties must understand what they agree. Contracts that are misunderstood may be void or voidable.

Who needs a simple translation?

Simple plain language translations are necessary for industries (like financial services, direct marketing, insurance, communications) with:

  • Low-literate consumers who do not have average literacy skills
  • Consumers who received more education in their second language than in reading the language they speak at home

How we can help with Simple Language

Michalsons can facilitate simple translations for added plain language protection. Please contact us if you would like further information on any of the following services:

  • A reader-response audit of your organisation’s ‘average consumer’
  • An assessment of simple plain language needs
  • Simple English plain language conversions for functionally illiterate consumers
  • Simple Afrikaans plain language conversions for functionally illiterate consumers
  • Simple Xhosa plain language conversions for functionally illiterate consumers
  • Audio conversions for functionally illiterate consumers