Finding the right words: Collaboration with BC People First creates plain language videos to explain CLBC’s Strategic Plan

“Everyone has a right to be communicated with in a way they understand,” says Michael McLellan, board member and past president of BC People First (BCPF), a provincial organization that works to ensure people with developmental disabilities are respected and included in communities as full citizens. “As we always emphasize, ‘Nothing about us without us’,” says Michael.

With that idea in mind, Community Living BC (CLBC) approached BCPF to help develop scripts for a series of short videos to explain who CLBC is, what its vision and values are, and describe the goals of the CLBC Strategic Plan. BCPF offers a paid plain language translation service that organizations and businesses can use to ensure the information they share is accessible and easy to understand.

Michael McLellan of BC People First.

“We’re in our third year of offering these services, and this was actually part of our own strategic plan,” says Michael. Past projects have included developing a plain language election guide for Inclusion BC and working on informational materials for a university.

BC People First members reviewed CLBC’s Strategic Plan in detail during a session facilitated by CLBC’s Self Advocate Advisor Jessica Humphrey and past BCPF Provincial Coordinator Ariel Pavic. A re-worded, plain language translation of the document was recorded during the session and used to create three short video scripts: “CLBC and its vision”, “CLBC’s Values” and “CLBC’s Strategic Plan.” The scripts were then given a final close review by the Plain Language Committee before being provided to CLBC.

“We look everything over, and review it line by line and section by section. Then we make decisions by asking ‘Does it sound clear?’ and ‘Is it understandable enough?’ If not, we’ll eliminate some words, reword it, and adjust the text to be more accessible,” says Michael.

With the final plain language scripts in hand from BCPF, CLBC’s communications team worked with Alexander Magnussen, one of CLBC’s Strategic Initiatives Advisors to record the audio narration for the video clips.

New videos describe CLBC’s vision, values and Strategic Plan in plain language.

Using not only plain language, but also sharing information in different formats, is a sign of respectful communication says Michael. “I’m always emphasizing how important plain language is in any sort of communication. It’s so important to recognize that many people communicate differently and need to receive information differently. Video can be an effective tool because not everyone can read, and not everyone can write. This is one way for people CLBC supports to receive the communications themselves and not have to rely on someone to interpret it for them. It’s something I’d love to see more of.”

The launch of the plain language videos accompanies an update to CLBC’s 2017-2020 Strategic Plan. The plan was revised following a mid-plan check in with key stakeholders that included getting feedback from self advocates, families, service providers, advocates and CLBC staff around three questions:

  • Do you know about the work CLBC is doing to try to make the Strategic Plan happen?
  • Do you think the work we’re doing is the “right work”?
  • Are CLBC’s top four goals still the most important things to focus on?

Based on what CLBC heard, key updates made to the Strategic Plan are:

Adding a focus to the Strengthening Relationships Goal of strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

Adjusting the top 4 priority areas from: 

  1. Better Serving Individuals with Multiple, Complex Needs
  2. Strengthening Relationships
  3. Streamline Processes
  4. Strategic Alignment and Focus


  1. Better Serving Individuals with Multiple, Complex Needs
  2. Strengthening Relationships
  3. Streamline Processes
  4. Increase Access to a Range of Housing Support Options

Adding clarification to the “Better Outcomes” goal so it is clear that it means “Better Outcomes for Individuals” CLBC serves.

You can find CLBC’s updated Strategic Plan and “Plan on a Page” poster, as well as the three plain language videos, here.

Learn more about BC People First

The BC People First Society (BCPF) is a non-profit provincial organization that is part of a national movement. BCPF works to make sure that people with developmental disabilities are respected and included in communities as full citizens. They do this by supporting self advocates to speak up for themselves and others. BCPF’s vision is a diverse community where all people are: included and involved; honoured and respected; seen for their abilities and supported to participate.

Visit the BC People First website here.

Plain Language Translation Services

BCPF maintains a Plain Language Translation Committee which can be hired to translate information into easier to understand language. This work is done by a team of Self Advocates, with the help of an advisor.

Learn more about this service, and how to submit a request, here.

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