Using plain language as much as possible

We’ve been making continued efforts to make our communications as accessible and jargon-free as possible. But it’s not always easy.

HDRN Canada is made up of a network of Data Centres, whose work is of course very technical by nature.  Our members produce all kinds of reports, documents, articles, which include writing and diagrams that explain complex data relationships, algorithms, policies and rules.  Frequently, we do have to use terms, jargon and language that are specific to the field of population data science in order to carry out our technical work.

However, there are lots of times when it’s not necessary to use formal or technical language (like in this News Feed, for example).  In fact, for most communications purposes, we think it’s better to use ‘plain language’ to get ideas across and create connection.  This helps to reduce confusion and also supports our commitment to IDEA principles, especially related to inclusion, equity and accessibility. We respect that our community members come from a diversity of backgrounds and training experiences. We strive to create shared understanding through, among other things, accessible language.

Many of us at HDRN Canada are used to writing in a way that is formal, academic, and perhaps highly technical. When it comes to writing for a wider audience, we know we have a lot of unlearning to do.  But we understand the importance of using plain language even when communicating with each other, and we’re working on improvement every day.

And of course, we also apply this principle to talking about health data policies.  This article (written by HDRN Canada team members) explains why:  Plain language about health data is essential for transparency and trust.