Annual Report of the Information Commissioner 2016


I very much welcome this Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service – A Universal Design Approach. I am of the view that we can all learn from the clear and common sense advice in this toolkit. Not only because the public deserves the best possible service, but because I think these guidelines focus on what is right.

The way we communicate is very important – the language we use, our tone, our body language and how we present information in written or verbal methods. Some groups have, in the past, been intimidated by the way the public service has communicated. This should no longer be the case. Our interaction with the public must be positive and produce the most effective outcomes for all involved.

All members of the public expect to receive the best possible customer experience. I know that public servants aim to deliver the highest quality service they can. We need to ensure that they are equipped to do so. It is essential that they use the simplest and clearest language possible and to ensure that all services are accessible, and meet the diverse needs of all our customers. This toolkit includes guidance on general writing style principles, verbal and non-verbal communications, design of forms and documents, web and social media content and how to display signage.

We are all aware that more and more services are moving online. This toolkit gives advice on the provision of the highest quality of online services. Websites should be easy to navigate and updated regularly. The information we provide should be clear and concise, easy to find and understand and forms should be easy to complete.

Finally, I would like to thank the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design and a Working Group which included customer service representatives from all Government Departments and major Offices, for the development of this toolkit. As such the toolkit is reflective of the work of the entirety of the public service. It shows a level of professionalism and reflects on aspirations that we can all work to achieve.

Paschal Donohoe, T.D.
Minister for Finance and
Public Expenditure and Reform

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