“College degree needed” to read many state websites
Environment department’s website came last in study of readability
A review of government websites has claimed a college education is required to understand more than half of them.
Government websites which provide instructions on social assistance and programmes for at-risk youth were found to be hardest to read.
Some 25 core government websites, plus Dublin City Council’s website, were tested by consulting group VisibleThread, an Irish company whose software finds poor readability and other issues in documents and websites. The company said 16 of these required a third-level education – which more than half of Irish people do not have – to be understood.
Ranked bottom of the survey overall was the website of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, closely followed by the website of the Department of Justice and Equality.
Their sites lagged significantly behind the next worst performing websites in the rankings, VisibleThread said. Its recommended a complete overhaul of the sites to meet plain English guidelines.
The majority of government websites failed to meet plain English guidelines set out by the State’s Clear Language initiative in 2003 and, more recently, the Irish Public Service Reform plan 2014-2016, the company said.
This reform plan mandated: “The public service must simplify the language that it uses when communicating with service users. There must be a stronger focus on, and a commitment to, the use of plain language right across the public service so that application forms and information are more easily understood, thus improving the experience of the customer and reducing the requirement for repeated contact.”