Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Finalist (and special mention): Best Plain English Document — Public Sector / Non-Government Organisation (NGO) 2015

Wellington City Council

Document name

Get prepared for an emergency

Judges’ comment

The purpose of this poster is very clear. It presents a really important message, and therefore needs to work well for all citizens, however literate. It absolutely achieves this. It looks like the result of a very good design process. The graphics are entirely relevant and work in perfect tandem with the words. We can’t think of any ways to improve it. Excellent work.

We found it hard to judge this poster alongside other entries, as this one has so few words! This makes us think that we need a new ‘Best infographic’ category in future, so entries like this one can be more fairly judged against other similar entries.

Media statement

Wellington City Council is thrilled to be a finalist in the Best Plain English Document — Public sector / NGO category for an emergency preparedness poster in this year’s WriteMark Plain English Awards.

The poster was designed to convey clear messaging and images for everyone, including people with mobility impairments, about what to do in an emergency — like alternatives to ‘drop, cover, and hold’ for people in a wheelchair.

Council’s Community Services team consulted with numerous organisations — including Red Cross Refugee Services, Age Concern, Deaf Aotearoa and Arthritis New Zealand — to get feedback to incorporate into the final design.

The Creative Services Manager, Brenda Costeloe, says it was a rewarding brief for the actual design of the poster.

‘We always design with the customer in mind, we start with their needs, and the Community Services team identified that people with accessibility issues form an important part of this customer group,’ says Brenda.
‘We used larger font sizes, less text plus pictogram images to explain what to do, also simplification and a clear hierarchy of written information to make this poster as accessible as possible.’

Acknowledgement for the poster is a bonus for the designers, who concentrated on finding the right visual balance between text and images for effective messaging, according to Brenda.

‘It went through several iterations and testing to make sure we had it right. It is good to see the work recognised and valued by the public. The designer and illustrator did a great job collaborating with Community Services to get it right.’

An article about the poster was published in the June 2015 edition of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management Impact magazine, generating much interest in the resource from local authorities and government organisations around the country.

Victoria Barton-Chapple
Council Communications