Council learning to communicate clearly

Image credit: Gerd Altmann,

Earlier in the week, Eindhoven Councillor, Monique List, signed the national Direct Duidelijk deal on behalf of the Municipality. In doing so, the Council declares its commitment to direct, clear communication.

List says, “I think it is important that everyone in our city can participate. As a municipality, you touch inhabitants’ daily lives in all sorts of ways. They must understand what we say or write. Signing this deal is, therefore, a matter of course for me. But even more important is that we continue to make every effort to make our communication as clear as possible.”

In the past year, Eindhoven’s City Council has replaced more than a hundred letters with ones that are easier to understand. Officials are receiving training, and a language app helps them to write clearly.

Image letters

The Municipality has also been using so-called ‘image letters’ to inform residents about the renewal of their identity documents. These letters, which include photos, make clear, at a glance, what the message is about, and what the recipient should do. The image letter also contains a QR code. After scanning the code, residents can also listen to the letter’s contents.

The Council uses a reading panel too. This panel consists of people who have difficulty with difficult words and long sentences. The reading panel’s feedback helps the Municipal write communications that are easier to understand.

What does clear communication mean? The reader must be taken into account with a personal approach. The language used must also be understandable. With the help of writing tips, a checklist, training, and practical examples, everyone can improve their communication.

Why does the government have to communicate clearly?

To fully participate in Dutch society, everyone must be able to understand what the government is writing or saying. Clear communication also ensures people have faith in the government. And government organisations need to spend less time and money answering questions created by unclear communication.

The nationwide Direct Duidelijk campaign supports government organisations in improving their communication. The campaign aims to get as many institutions as possible to sign the deal so that the entire government will communicate more clearly.

The Direct Duidelijk project is an initiative of the Dutch-Flemish Network for Understandable Government (NBO) Steering C. The NBO’s Language Union and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations work closely with more than 70 other organisations from the Netherlands and Belgium to tackle the problem of unclear government language.

Source: Gemeente Eindhoven

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