Simple, clear and concise language

Publication Type


The Accessible Canada Act and the Accessible Canada Regulations require federally regulated organizations to prepare and publish:


  • accessibility plans
  • feedback process descriptions, and
  • progress reports

Organizations must write these documents in simple, clear and concise language.

This web page includes tips and resources to help organizations meet this requirement. Organizations should also read the Government of Canada's Guidance on simple, clear and concise language.

What is simple, clear and concise language?

Simple, clear and concise language is a way of communicating that is easy for people to read and understand. It is also called “plain language”. This style of writing:

  • Focuses on readers’ needs
  • Uses everyday language instead of technical terms
  • Breaks down complex information to make it easier to follow
  • Presents ideas in a logical way

Simple, clear and concise language helps reduce barriers in communication. It makes written documents more accessible for everyone, including people with different types of disabilities, language skills and literacy levels.

Guidelines and standards

Federal government organizations must follow the Treasury Board of Canada’s Guidelines on Making Communications Products and Activities Accessible. Other organizations can also use those guidelines to improve the accessibility of their documents.

Canada does not have an official standard yet on simple, clear and concise language. Accessibility Standards Canada (ASC) is developing a standard on plain language, which is now being studied by a committee of experts. ASC expects to have the standard ready for review by the public in the winter of 2023. Once the standard is in its final form, the Government of Canada may turn it into regulations.

The tips below can help you write your documents in simple, clear and concise language.



Know your readers

Before you start writing, ask yourself:

  • Who will read your documents?
    • Your accessibility plans, feedback process and progress reports will be available to the general public, which includes people with different disabilities, literacy levels and language skills.
    • The Accessibility Commissioner and their team may also review these documents when carrying out inspections.
  • What information do your readers need?
    • What will people be looking for when they read these documents?
    • What key messages do you want to communicate to your readers?
  • How familiar are your readers with your organization and its work?
    • Don’t assume that readers have the same level of knowledge that you do.
    • The general public should be able to understand these documents.
  • What types of barriers could people face when reading these documents?
    • Barriers could be related to people’s disabilities (examples: cognitive, learning, intellectual, communication), literacy levels and language skills.
    • How can you adapt your writing style to reduce these barriers?

Keep these questions in mind when planning, writing and reviewing your documents.

Organize your ideas

  • Create an outline to help keep you on track when you write.
  • Break your content into topics and sections with short headings.
    • Make sure to include all the required headings in your accessibility plan: General, Areas listed in section 5 of the Accessible Canada Act (separate headings for each relevant area), and Consultations.
  • Organize your ideas in a logical way.
  • Put the most important information up front.



  • Use everyday language that most people are familiar with.
    • If you must use technical terms, explain them.
  • Use short and simple words, when possible.
  • Be consistent with the words you use.
    • Example: Always refer to your accessibility plan as “a plan”; don’t call it different things like a strategy, project or program.
  • Avoid abbreviations and acronyms, when possible.


  • Use short sentences.
  • Only present one idea in each sentence.
    • If you combine two ideas into one sentence, use linking words (examples: but, and, if, because).
  • Use simple and direct sentence structures (subject, verb, object).
    • Example: Instead of: “People with disabilities were consulted by our organization”, say: “Our organization consulted people with disabilities.”


  • Break your text into paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on one topic.
  • Keep your paragraphs short (5 or 6 sentences).


  • Don’t clutter your document. Leave space between paragraphs and sections.
  • Use bullet point lists.



  • Reread your documents carefully to make sure they are easy to follow and understand.
  • Remove any unnecessary words, sentences, information and repetition. Don’t distract readers with details that aren’t essential.


Disclaimer: The Canadian Human Rights Commission does not endorse these tools. Digital tools don’t guarantee that documents are easy to read and understand. You should also ask people to test the readability and usability of your documents.

  • Ask people from your target audience to review your documents. Ask them if the information is easy to find, read, understand and use.
    • Consulting people with disabilities can help remove and prevent barriers in your writing.
  • Digital tools (readability formulas) can assess the grade / reading level of your text. They measure the average length of your sentences and words.